Lanterns on the Path of Memory

Knowing I’ll be leaving makes this place look different. I’ve been so wrapped up in the problems of the Peace Corps medical clearance that I keep forgetting how close it is. A week to finish work. A week and a half to pack. Maybe one more trip up the mountain if I have time. There are things to be done, but I seem to have to wait for almost all of them.

There are a few other tasks that need to be done for the visa, but they are all easily done. I doubt the potassium will be an issue by the time I take it next week, but I’m waiting on that, and the final MMR shot. I have a dentist appointment at some point also, but I don’t bother to remember now that I have my calendar in my phone.

I’ve always had a good memory, but I’ve been working to let go of some things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in bad memories, easier than it is to remember the good sometimes. I learn more from the bad days, but I don’t find that I need to keep reliving them like I used to. It used to be that time passed and I would forget a lot of the good things, remembering the pain and misery acutely. One of the best choices I made was to pull my mind away. I’d rather forget everything than only look back on pain.

There are things I will remember, and hold on to. Guinness laughing at how I walk down stairs in a way that doesn’t hurt my knees. Climbing the endless stairs and hiking through the brush with 10 Minutes and the Guard. A few people who are amazingly funny, beautiful, and fascinating. Conversations with people whose names I can’t even remember, just countries where they are from. Laughing with Clouds and Red through the woods. All the things I held back, for good reasons and bad.

I don’t remember ever really having a problem with getting attached to people or places, not in a way that could cripple me. I have to choose to love someone, to go beyond attraction, desire, or interest, but attachment seems to be a creature of its own will. I get attached, but it isn’t hard to cut that thread. There is always a trace, like a scar where it was, but those are scars I am glad to have.

The idea of getting tattoos sometimes drifts through my mind, to mark the places I’ve been, but they would never be what I want them to be. They would never be more than a shadow of what I experienced, something to show others as a badge of honor. Pride, nothing more.

I have spent my life avoiding attention, trying to keep from being in the center. I don’t think I’m ever really what people expect me to be, and that has always been my goal. Patience and surprise. I don’t think it’s necessary to be more than I am, but that only makes sense with where I have been.

I only have the vaguest idea of where I will be going after this. The Peace Corps may wind up being more of what I have already done, and it may be something I can’t even imagine. Either way, I don’t think it serves me to stay the way I’ve always been. I walked through the lantern festival remembering when I arrived last year, just as the festival started.

It’s beautiful, but not what I expected. You always see the pictures of the lanterns, glowing and floating through the air, but the lanterns I found barely even hint at that past. There are places where that is still the norm, with the wishes floating into the sky, but all those wishes come down somewhere and leave their ruins throughout the mountains.

This was something familiar, something I saw much more often in Mexico. Decorations all over the street, food stalls with all the local favorites, stage shows, and a parade of people wandering through blocked off streets. Everything was strange, but hinted at the familiar. I don’t know if it was the traces of western culture spread throughout the city or if the eastern style has become that much more familiar.

I will miss this place when I am gone, and I know that coming back will be a different strain than heading back to Mexico. There, it is the danger that makes me wary. Here, it’s the comfort. My life was comfortable for too long, and I never found what I needed there. It’s time to begin the next misadventure, windmills and all.

This entry was posted in 2017-02, Taiwan, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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