I was born in the city of mists, neon filled the night.
We were disciples of mist, can’t see each other’s faces;
We laughed and dreamed and cried under the same light,
But no one cared to see behind masks or leave traces.

In the heart where apathy took its throne,
I yearned for a place where empathy is sown.
From distant lands, a journey to disown,
For education, where compassion has grown.

A school in between the mountains meant security,
But also social exile if you were not careful.
After all, we’re hours from cities, and teenage obscurity
Might crush any defiance from souls dareful.

Three times, I drove north to Massachusetts Coast,
Sat alone on the steps of Copey, gazing with no direction,
When mask regulations haunted me like a ghost,
Contemplating my fruitless relations, colorless connections.

So no one cared where you go or where you come,
As I tried to find the attachment strolling through Boylston Street. (1)
Students walked with boba tea and packed dim sum,
Bittersweet solitude, where hearts and footsteps meet.

Dormitory lights flickered, stories etched in ivy-covered walls,
Snow witnessed tales of detachment where roots germinate.
Litchfield’s silent snowfall to current vibrant, endless thralls,
Halfway across the nation now a new narrative to articulate.

A decade since the last time I was here, memories blur.
Many faces just like me, talk, speak just like me.
Perhaps time to let the snow melt inside, 
East Coast will always be in me, but enjoy where we be.

Needless to say, I am intrigued by the city, like a spell.
Not only Hollywood Hills and Santa Monica Beach,
But sauteed bok-choy rice cake, the familiar smell;
K-town neon lights and home are all now within reach.

California blue melts below the peach-gold horizon, ecstatic,
Stars crystalize as Boston Common’s crowds slowly dissipate, 
I seem to smell the saline from the icy Atlantic Ocean, enigmatic,
As the mellow breeze of the Pacific caresses my cheeks–I anticipate.

“Happy New Year,” I raise a cup to the window glass.
Where are the fireworks? Take a sip of the tea.
Touch that so-soft a spot with the treble and the bass. (2)
Look, the pinnacle of human defect in order to be.

Yeah, it’s almost the Lunar New Year. There’ll be vibrant scenes
While Connecticut’s winters in my memory chill.
Amid palm trees and communities, festive spirit gleans,
When all there was were eight dumplings, time stood still.

Detachment, reattachment,
Transatlantic to Transpacific,
Tales of reclusion to inclusion,
Perhaps it is finally time to open up…

Visual Credit: Dora Gao

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