Another raining winter day. Walking out from airbnb, ran into an old man carrying a garbage bag, a rain coat with a big cut open on the back. What caught my attention was his black sneakers — washed clean by the rain, but felt soaking wet. He was walking with is right arm swaying in a strange way while his left hand carrying that bag.

    Walking by him, I put umbrella over him, "您好, 我给您打点儿伞吧" "不 用不用" so he answered. But I put umbrella over him and he didn't resist. "我听您口音也是这边儿的人那" "我大学毕业就留在这儿了...." didn't catch the rest of his words, then he went across to the other side of the residence area, I guess it's his job then to keep the area clean. I watched him went across, but feeling really sad.

    So he graduated from college. By looking at him, he would be about the same as my Dad, slightly younger maybe, but in that generation. And you know, college graduates in those days were, rare! Not sure what he said is actually true, but then, what's the motivation for him to tell me otherwise. It doesn't matter. Watching him, I'm just wondering how one's fate can play out, for better, and for worse.

    What is the hand God is dealing me with? I don't know. These days I'm pretty bothered by losing hair on the back, not much, but still, makes me upset and uncomfortable. Maybe it has always been there, but well, it's catching on my mind these days, and I don't really like it. I think what really bothers me is the irreversible sign of aging. There are plenty young people walking around in this city, looking good, healthy, energetic... and here I am, stepping into mid age, and soon will be categorized as being old, and no one would bother to look at and to pay attention anymore... and that, is just sad.

    Sometimes I wonder, is this really bad? I mean, the perfect combination will be having the young age, and the experience of what I have today, and probably also the assets, like the Brookline condo, and the type of confidence at work, that I have today... if only we could have them all! But well, no one's life is, perfect, though many look great, by others' standard, or imagination. Up to this age I think it is safe to say that you will be willing to swap your life with no one's — everyone has a mess in life that s/he is having a headache to deal with, just that you don't know, until you are close enough with that person, and his/hers problem becomes, yours, like caring for aging parents, like caring for young kids, like education, like career, or health, or old boyfriend girlfriend... you just dont' know, until you have to deal with.

    It's hard. I wonder whether this old man has ever wondered that his fate will land him at this spot, cleaning up this area in a winter rain... when I went to the Asian Art Museum at San Fransico, the exhibit of young immigrants and their parents a few generations back, all the young men, young women, were sooooo good looking, so beatufiul! So each person, when s/he was young, was at that age, were just, beautiful.. and this man, when he was at his college, how proud he would have been, how much hope he would have had, how wonderful his future life would have been looked like to him.

    So, what is fate? an ever unknown path that takes you somewhere, somewhere you will only be, at the end, and looking back, and with regret and sorrow, and with joy and agony, with tears that long have been shed, with person long have been lost, with a true love one must have had.. how sad how sad! Is this because of aging, that I'm feeling so permisistic about life? I guess so, it must be.

    But then, when looking back in another 20 some years (and how long that actually is, 20 some years!!! That's like, a long time!! Yet, as if being discounted from life, from 45 to 70 becomes, feels, is regarded, as an instance, the same bucket of so called, old, how unfair!), I would then wish that I could only come back to this age, at 45, sitting here, should be full of hope, full of life, full of possibilities, full of love.

    What will be it be? My fate?

    — by Feng Xia


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