James Z. Feng
演员, 导演, 编剧
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Keep Walking

 Keep Walking       By: James Z. Feng


A few years back while working on a project, I suddenly received a text message from this girl I was dating telling me she got a new job in Singapore. She said she wanted to get away from her dead-end job in China and get a fresh start somewhere else. She then proceeded to tell me she was leaving that very night. It was a bitter shock to me since we just recently started to get serious in our relationship. We met at a friend’s baby shower and started dating a few days later. We’ve been dating for a few months and have grown quite close in that short amount of time. Not that we were in love or anything, but we certainly had a lot of potential. Minus the chain smoking, I really liked her, she had all the qualities I wanted in a girl: funny, kind, generous, caring, and patient. She was one of the few girls I knew who could handle my crazy personality. But after seeing that text from her, I knew our future just went down the drain. The dejected side of me didn’t want to see her off; I wanted to be cruel and cut her completely out of my life right there and then. All my life, I’ve always avoided face-to-face breakups; the physicality of detaching from someone often leaves me with a staining residue of loneliness. When it comes to goodbyes, my preference would be either a phone call or writing them a letter, it’s easier. But in this particular case, I felt this instinctive urge to see her off one last time; I felt she had deserved it.

After my grueling 14-hour day on set finally ended, I quickly went on my way to see her off. On the drive there, I start being selfish and questioning myself whether it was necessary to see her one more time. The insecure part of me kept suggesting I should protect myself and go home. I was trying to battle my detachment phobia and it was becoming harder to win. I started reexamining my past relationships and searched for answers on how I became this way. From the day my best friend passed away to my first girlfriend that broke my heart up, I saw a past full of painful relationships that often left me feeling abandoned. Over time, I started to build a barrier to keep myself away from intimacy in fear of abandonment. When you invest yourself it another person, you leave yourself vulnerable to pain and betrayal. The truth is I hated goodbyes because I didn’t want to get closer to people who were about to leave my life.  With this girl in particular, I didn’t want to see the picture of “us” one last time before having to let her go. The truth is, I didn’t love her, yet. But I felt I owed her a goodbye because she was good to me.

Still caught up in deep thought, the cab driver suddenly interrupts my soul searching “Xian shen, wo men dao le (Sir, we’re here)”. I step out the cab and see her waiting for me from a far. I slowly walk toward her not knowing what to expect. She walks towards me and hugs me. After that, the two of us just stand there, gauging each other’s emotions, speechless, no “hi’s” or “how are you’s”; just silence. After seeing the disappointment in my eyes, she reached over to hold my hand. She knew she was wrecking my world with her move and I didn’t approve of it, she also knew I understood why she had to do it. Still standing there face to face, my wall of facade started to crumble. In my moment of weakness, I desperately started seeking signs of validation that maybe "us" could miraculously workout somehow no matter where she went. I started magnifying her good qualities while downplaying her flaws, going as far as convincing myself that her chain smoking didn’t really bother me; passion has a funny way of toying with our minds into believing false realities. Caught up in the moment, I knew all I had to say was "let’s try to make this work” and she would have agreed. Those words never came out of my mouth. In that moment, I grew up. I replayed montages of past long-distance relationships that never worked out and knew this was no different. I cared for her enough that I didn’t want to trick us both into believing in a phony relationship. Once I made up my mind, she felt me letting her go and started to do the same. We hugged each other one last time. That last hug carried all the good and bad times we had together, once we let it go, it was over. It was interesting seeing a relationship dissipating in the air, we both knew we couldn’t stop it; nor did we want to.

I call another cab to go home. I went to sleep that night and tried not to think about her, luckily the fatigue from the 14-hour workday quickly carried me into a dreamland. I woke up the next morning, went to work, thought about her a few times, went home, slept, woke up the day after, went to work… With the passing of each day, I thought of her a little less. People say a busy schedule is the best cure to getting over someone, they were right; it wasn’t long before I stopped thinking about her altogether and started dating again. Till this day, I never did see her again. Last I heard, she eventually moved back to China and started her own fashion consulting business. Thinking back to when I was a kid, I use to wonder how adults could ever give up on finding true love and simply settle for mediocrity, I understand that now. Since those years, I’ve learned we become a bit more desensitized after each goodbye.

In retrospect, life is filled with special moments where we see the potential in something or someone, and we have a choice whether to pursue it or not. Everyone can go back in their memory bank and think of certain choices we’ve made in life that changed our whole lives. These monumental decisions change the direction of our lives and we all have to live with the consequences; whether good or bad. It’s also typical to wonder the possibilities and consequences had we made different decisions in life. If you had an opportunity to make a different decision that would alter everything in your life, would you? I have always lived by the motto to never regret, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think of how differently things could have turned out. For example, I use to wonder what life would’ve been like I pursued her to Singapore, would we have lived happily ever after? The what-ifs of life can destroy someone’s morale when it’s fueled by enough regret and alcohol; I’ve seen it many times over. Sky is the limit when it comes to thinking of infinite fantasies, but reality is something we must wake up to everyday. Life moves fast and we can’t control everything, no matter what happens from now to the day we die, the Johnny Walker commercial said it best: keep walking.




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english, mandarin, shanghainese
San francisco, United States
July 4, 2007