The story begins from the end. The law was clearly against my situation, and the case was shut down. Rejected, I felt subjected and dejected. Unlike an upbeat musical, where the protagonist would spring into dance, slide out of the door, and burst into a number, I could only manage to drag my feet slowly out of the heavy door, into the frigid air of a prematurely dark early spring afternoon. Snow was beginning to fall, and the low-hanging clouds were shimmering, shifting, with a purple hue. Heads down, each step I took toward the car tapped a low, half-tone piano key, stringing together a melody from a certain F# minor orchestra. Life was grandiose, in adventures as in the moment of sorrow. In the car, my hands on the wheel were as cold as the temperature of the sky and the earth below, altogether depressed me so even the foggy air I exhaled refused to dissipate. On the road back to Toronto, my heart sank low, as I stepped on the pedal to speed onto the freeway. Queens Elizabeth Way, 427, 401. The passing road signs served me a cold hard nostalgia and a certain indication of an unknown future.
I dared not turn the car radio on, as I digested what was said to me, and how I ought to process this. I let out a dry cough, giving a completely reactionary gesture to the twisting fate. Twisting as it might be, mystical was what it seemed, as of a sudden it sent a muffled song to my head, not through the antennae, but through the ether from a different spacetime. “Oh tie a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree. It’s been three long years. Do you still want me?” I could almost taste the bitterness of my own making.
Another chapter swiftly followed after the preceding one closed. Summer was in full bloom, and for the first time, not even during college days, I was in Toronto — a hometown from the bygone days, and town of miserable college memories — gracefully accepted me once again. I still remember during those short trips back here, I walked down University Avenue by myself in a quiet evening, shivering, reminiscing the old, while exclaiming how the city was not what I used to remember. Now the kind city has welcomed me back to her embrace, and I repaid her kindness with a pious acknowledgement. With a roof over my head, a mattress to sleep on, and my dearest feline friends grooming themselves beside the harrowing air conditioner, life felt normal again.
Sitting by my desk, facing the ever glowing Yonge street below, suddenly it felt as though the last 12 year had only zapped past me in a dazzling speed. I thought of a Chinese proverb that described an unfortunately fellow’s lifetime of pursuits was but a dream. I’ve always hated going back to where I used to be, and yet there I was, feeling relieved of my stubborn belief. A certain sadness, mixed with a certain contentment, could vaguely describe the serenity. I recalled a scene I’d seen in the movie Paris je t’aimes, where an American lady visited Paris for the first time by herself, and was unexpectedly swept away by an incomprehensible wave of sentiments as her sat at a bench people-watching at the park.
Gradually, I began living once again. First joined a French class, and then resumed urban sketching at a local meet-up. Having kept my job, I was also able to maintain the daily rhythm of work and meetings, chats and calls. three months had gone by, I could hardly believe I had survived such sudden turn, thrown upon me because of my own negligence and procrastination. With my daily routine and my philosophy, I felt grounded again. The city of glamor seemed like a distant star with a faint glow in the warm summer night. There was nothing I needed in life as much as my family — my dearest little friends Cupid and Michael, and a simple sense of being who I am. As long as I hadn’t lost all those aspiration and sentimentalities that defined me, as long as I was still able to pursue all those ideals, and connect them with people that I cared about, life seemed complete.