(Michelle and Maya in Dundas, 2013)
Early morning and there was that light blue hue to everything around. Just behind the tuk-tuk driver I watched his hair flap and dance in the wind as the street scene unfolded. It looked like a place that hadn't changed in a long time, everything fixed, old advertisement covered second story walls, and plastic burned in designated spots. This was the old my mind told me, comparing it to the modernized Beijing I had seen the day before. There again, yesterday felt like a while ago. So-so-so long ago that song went.
I looked like an idiot. A complete fool. The dogs were barking at me as I got closer with my camera. All around me were locals watching me get closer and reading the signs of the dogs. The dogs were wild and had their own place in Pingyao. There were puppies there and I cannot resist the charm of puppies. Dogs were barking by my legs and yet I stay there, even getting closer until one came real close, its fur touching my fur. I started to run out of there and I felt being chased as what was directly behind was obscured by my imagination and fear of possibility getting rabies. I must have outrun them or they just didn't care to keep chase as the sun set.
We rode tuk-tuks again, packing my entire family while the other carried all of our luggage. Imagine two motorized rickshaws: one carrying five adult human beings while the other was devoted to carrying all their possessions. This image seemed to carry with me the entire trip, and even before the journey started the notion of "mental weight" was dawning on me. It came up on a hike after a friend of mine lost a precious bracelet, we were all high out of our minds in the middle of the woods and she lost that thing. We spent time looking for it but no success, it had become part of the woods. Eventually we had to push on as the sun was getting to that place in the sky. Though the physical weight of the bracelet passed by day to day undetected its mental weight lingers; its significance, its sentimental value, its memory were all too important to keep on travels and yet she carried it with her, as a keepsake and a reminder. We tend to leave things at home we wish not to lose but there are some special things we keep with us to represent something or someone as we are away. There was a book buried deep in the backpack I was living out of for the trip. It is sealed in a ziplock bag and it is very old. I had no immediate plans to read it it just had to come along. There is something in an object that has been places and has been owned by people, who also took it places as well. It is usually objects that only find value to us and that they lack exchangeable value, such as used shoes (these are my magic shoes), an old camera that your father or mother shot with when they were your age, a book, a hat, and lucky jewelry. When those things are lost there is a release of mental weight, but because it has been weighing down for so long the gravity is missed and so it is we can often forget we are lighter and no longer have to bare the weight of the past. That bracelet was buried somewhere in Dundas, Ontario, where it will never get more lost than it is found in those woods.
A piece of luggage falls from the tuk-tuk ahead and our driver laughs and yells at his friend driving. We carry on and make it to the train station late at night. They're playing a Jackie Chan movie on an old television set and this is the first and only time I will see Jackie Chan on my trip. The train arrives, first appearing as a distant light floating in the darkness of a small town, then it grows and creates silhouettes of guards on wait. On board everyone appears to be asleep, occasional someone peeks over and then acts like they were sleeping. I quickly climbed up to the third bunk and passed out. No window to fall asleep to, no way to see if the moon was shining, just snores and coughs and the sound of a train rolling on tracks. Sleep-sleep-sleep.