It is indeed quite a long time, 21 years. A friend of mine reminded me that, this year has been the 21st year since we knew each other. This is also the age of the internet chat I would say, because we met each other online, as an early adopter of these chat applications, ICQ, which was the mother of all chat applications including the copycat, the Chinese QQ, and of course, now its sequel, the enormous Wechat.

    I don't know how our relationship survived the 21 years, during which many years we had zero contact, zero news of each other. Then when we started to talk to each other again last December, that I learned she was then staying in a village somewhere in the west of China doing some sort of volunteering work, we didn't feel too strange at all.

    But this isn't giving me a formula how to maintain the other relationships in life to be as long-living as this one. You can easily say that it takes two in a personal relationship, thus this case worked because both of us did not have a grudge against each other, and was quite neutral to either having it or not having it → no pressure, no expectation, thus no regret. Then, for many others, such condition does not exist, which make them improbably to continue or to resume.

    True, true. But also, I feel there is a fate, an element of uncontrollable destiny in play, that two trajectories happen to be far apart, but crossing still. Since last march I have been thinking why my marriage w/ Noah's mom would end up like this? what was the difference, or how it could have been different? On my part I had much hope, much expectation, much judgement, and much less tolerance. But how can two be together not having these traits? Is the connection of me and this friend that is more like a two drifting rocks in space living happily with or without the other is the way to last? Can it even be called a connection, because most part of the time we were really not, connected!?

    To think of it, the number might be impressive, but the density was, little. We could still claim that we know each other, but the reality is, I don't know much of her, her life, her circle, her agenda, her passion, anything, really. So there isn't really much there. But w/ Noah's mom, I still face everything accompanied w/ Noah's life — drop off at school, not doing or turning in homework, arrangement for a non-school day, spring break, summer break, need medication, shuttling to badminton, breakfast at Panera, grocery shopping, so on and so forth. Not that these are joyful and exciting. On the contrary, the only word I can think of is, grinding. But they are, heavy, solid, like a rock lying in the middle of the road, you can't go around it, you can't run over it, you can't ignore it, you can't pick another road, you can't have option not to deal with it → you have to get up, get down, use all your energy, tools, and sometimes even more than what you know, to remove it, clear the path, so you can make pass one single day — they are too real, too mercilessly confronting, and always they win.

    So there you have it, one that ties you down to the ground, you feel you have wings but you can never fly w/ that weight. And these long-time acquaintance, friend, ex this and ex that, reminds you how long it has been, how long you have survived, and checking whether there is any soul left in it, that's still beeping, still breathing.

    I have always had a feeling, that the end of my life will be like the author of the 红楼梦, or that movie, 芳华, that another woman I have long known, will be at side, leaning against each other. All passions are gone, only wounds left, huddle to only keep warm.

    Sad, isn't it?

    — by Feng Xia


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