Listen above to Stork & Owl by TV on the Radio.
Songs hold fragments of my history.
Frank Ocean is forever intertwined with the image of the sun peaking through the gray clouds of San Francisco (Lost, Thinking about You). TV on the Radio witnessed my lovestruck days in U Street, DC (You, Will Do). Beirut is synonymous to Sallyport, Reed College, Portland, Oregon (Elephant Gun, A Sunday Smile). Vampire Weekend will always remind me of crackling Carmel leaves under my feet (Diplomat’s Son).
I now associate loneliness in Beijing with Stork and Owl. Not that I consider this a bad thing. If anything, I’m surprised that it took this long for loneliness to strike. I’ve been enjoying more solitary walks around the city, but these explorations forced me to confront the fact that I am inhabiting a country void of a single soul who knows and cares about the history of my being (Drzzl doesn’t count, especially when he’s out of town). I feel finite and small. I can disappear into the cracks of this city and it will press on with its hustle. I’ve moved many places, but I’ve always been blessed with a sense of familiarity. Now, my loved ones seem galaxies away. This brings me a profound sense of sadness and awe. Shit that I use to stress about to the point of tears don’t mean shit here. That’s worthy of awe, I think.
Despite the loneliness, there is a unique beauty to the traveler’s life. At a packed Beijing subway train during rush hour, I managed to grab a seat and continue reading a copy of The Alchemist a friend gave me before I left home. When I opened the book, I found Carmel sand trapped between the pages. Stork and Owl began playing in my iPod. It was sadness and awe and beauty wrapped in one.