Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

to you (and also the long-awaited post-mortem)  §

As my eyes were drying out I realized that I hadn’t answered your question about NYC. Not being one to want to leave any task undone or question unanswered, I begin with that:

Chances are 75% that I will move to New York in August or September. Another 20% say that I may go in December, since I can defer once until spring if desired, and it might make financial sense for me to do so by some calculations. The remaining 5% of probabilistic options consist entirely of those that mark a complete departure from anything that has gone before. In all likelihood they are 1% each of: joining a Buddhist monastery, moving to Taiwan, service time in an NGO/NPO, a photojournalism internship, or resuming writing full time in complete earnest to the exclusion of all else.

What is now clear more than anything else is that this is the year for me to decide, once and for all, whether I will pursue further academic endeavours or not. It is the moment of truth, the fork in the road, and whichever I do, I will do without ever looking back. Until the decision is made, I will remain in a kind of liminal state.

And now, on to the main feature.

Post mortem

I’ve made a habit of writing about my life here over the years, including those moments that mean something. Anyone who has been alive for a time understands that there are moments in life, now and then, that are not unlike inflection points in the calculus, points between which inversions or relative inversions can bee seen to take place, and which are all too clear upon objective examination or in retrospect.

The last point of inflection for me, clearly so from the moment I lived it, happened as I drove home in the darkness and rain at 5.something in the morning on the last day I worked at eBay in 2003, closing the period that began on November 19th, 1999. At the time, I wrote

“It’s been three years, five months, two weeks and a day since I was last comfortable in the least in my life, such as it is (or was). I don’t know what I’m looking for now, so I’m certain I won’t know when I’ve found it. It’s early in the morning. I am again a one-man show. It is raining.”

I have expected the next inflection point for some time now, have felt it hovering around me as I awoke, only to disapper once my eyes were completely open. Tonight it has arrived, thanks to someone who has been very dear to me, and to whom I owe a great deal. As is always the case, in the interim everything has happened. I had expected this post to be much longer, now that the moment is here, in front of me in the middle of the night, and I can smell the dew on the window screen, I realize that only a few things need to be said.

First and foremost is that I have found it.

Chicago was the kind of experience that I’m glad to have had and that, god willing, I will never have again. I have shaken hands with lumnaries and been lectured by the famous. I’ve put bubbles in the Princeton fountain and sat on the subway in the early morning scribbling papers out on a notepad. The school made me and it broke me and will continue to break me.

And through it all what now stand out are the grey days and dim nights alone, spent walking in the rain amongst university gothic limestone, listing to Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and Neubauten’s Ich Gehe Jetzt, lost in a dream from which I shall never entirely recover. Chicago has brought to me an endless haunting. I’ll have it until the day I die, and for that I am both grateful and cursed.

This word for this epoch in my life is indeed the dream. It hasn’t been anything else.

I left Chicago in June ’04 for Portland, and there I waited for the new love I’d found to arrive while I shot pool and swilled beer with my brother, my oldest friend. When she came, the game was on, or so I thought, but it never really got started. Instead, limbo and liminality have followed me ever since, I always waiting for her, she always avoiding me.

For two years I’ve waited, here and there, never sure why I was waiting or quite what I waited for. Now, tonight, missing the person that I love and not knowing whether one dream is already over, I realize that I have been waiting and looking for this: to decide, with certainty, on my identity. Academics or no? The choice is mine, but it must be made, soon. Either selection will launch my adult life, finally. Late, but better so than never. I’ve waited since birth for this very year. In the meantime, much has been lost:

– My job
– My home
– My financial security
– Several dreams
– My car
– My motorhome
– My cameras
– My respect for Chicago the institution
– Yet more of my naiveté
– My love, above and beyond all else, unless somehow we can be reunited

But in the meantime, it is tonight, fittingly, raining once again, and Fleetwood Mac plays here as though it is an elemental component of the air in this room — the room I grew up in and the room I’ll soon leave again in short days for the capitol of the world.

I don’t know if she’ll be there with me or not. I don’t know almost anything at this point. But I have faith, in myself and in the air I breathe. It is a beginning, not an end.

And in a tableaux strangely in keeping with my past, I am sitting here in flickering flourescent light, window open, surrounded by Proust, a Sparcstation IPC running the hop lock, a bottle, bamboo, and a camera. May the future bring me more of the same.

End epoch, end post-mortem. As I’ve said here before, and will no doubt say again,

I will win this game called life.

“Now here you go again
You say you want your freedom
Well who am I to keep you down
It’s only right that you should
Play it the way you feel it
But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost…
And what you had…
And what you lost…

Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing
They say women, they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know

Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
It’s only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and…
Have you any dreams you’d like to sell?
Dreams of loneliness
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost…
What you had…
And what you lost…”