Rediscovering the Meaning of Being

June 5, 2015

My thoughts imitate the tempo of my breathing.

I've never been afraid of moving. In fact, I've always felt the opposite; constantly looking at what's ahead of me--exploring the unknown, seeking answers to unspoken questions, discovering the little things that make life more interesting.

Two bags. No more, no less. There they were, standing in front of me: my entire life packed in a medium grey luggage and a sturdy backpack. After hours of carefully choosing what to bring and what to leave behind, I was ready.

I looked at the remaining books on the table. It's a shame I couldn't bring them all with me, but I had to choose. If I was going to start over, I had to be specific. I had to know which ones were worth bringing and which ones I'm okay of leaving behind. In the end, I ended up with these books:

  1. Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia
  2. Sjón's The Whispering Muse
  3. Karen Joy Fowler's We are all Completely Beside Ourselves
  4. and Charles Yu's How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

The Arrival

One of the books I wanted to bring was Shaun Tan's The Arrival but it refused to get inside my luggage so I decided (with a heavy heart) to leave it behind.

I imprinted the wordless images in my brain as I scanned through the pages one last time. I tried to imagine how the protagonist felt when he left his family to work in a strange faraway land. The scene when he arrives in a ship on the new world blew me away!

My arrival wasn't as extraordinary as the story but seeing Jeremie's grinning face at the airport was enough to put that warmth back in me.

The arrival. Home at last.

Oh, hai!

One of the things that caught me off guard in this city is that people love to say Hi. On my first week, I was just sitting in the lobby of our apartment, when a stranger passed by the full-length glass windows and waved his hand. Then there was the time I was standing on the sidewalk when an old couple walking towards me paused to smile and say hi. Back home, the only strangers who said hi to you in the streets were half-naked pervs who just wanted to mess with you.

In shops, I wondered whether they were being rhetorical when they asked "How are you?" to which I would reply with a single syllable "Good".

It took awhile but I became accustomed to it and soon I was responding to the rhetoric/non-rhetoric question with two additional words.

Hey, how are ya?

I'm good, thanks.

I fell in love with San Francisco. From the hilly winding roads to the infinite wonderfully designed shops. It is a breath-taking city packed with little surprises.

One Sunday, Jeremie and I spontaneously walked through Valencia Street and found ourselves in the middle of a street block. There was a Mariachi band playing in one corner while the people danced along with the music. Food stalls were crowded so we decided to press on and see what else was ahead. The end of the street led to the start of a new one and we just kept on walking until we got hungry and stopped.

We used our weekends as a chance to get to know the city and what better way to discover it than to see it 500 feet above sea level. With our hands tucked inside our coats, we marched up the steep road towards the famous Coit tower. The higher we climbed, the colder it got.

My thoughts imitated the tempo of my breathing as I looked at the view.

I am beyond speechless.

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