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Posted by on Aug 18, 2009

Princeton, New Jersey: Day #1 of Vacation

I have taken a vacation this week for a few reasons, but mostly just to take some time to do things locally that I have never got around to doing. You live in a place for awhile, acclimate yourself to your routine of work and home and often forget about that character of the place itself. There was a reason you gravitated towards this place and it helps every so often to discover that.

This same phenomena had occurred in Seoul. All my tourist activities were more or less limited to the very beginning and end of my eight years there. The middle years were filled with work, friends, life, and all too often when I try to recollect on them, they are a blur. All sandwiched into periods depending on what apartment I lived in at the time. The Seodaemun years, the Shinchon years, and then the Gangnam years.

To avoid that happening in Princeton, a truly lovely town, I took the day just exploring the area around the university, seeing a few of the libraries and small galleries. I sat in the Princeton Public Library for a few hours leafing through oversized books on history nowhere near my area of expertise: The Yangtze River, Paul Muldoon, New York as written by the WPA during the Depression, and a guidebook to Mozambique, all the while lounging in a comfortable chair. A wonderful way to while away the day.

I got my haircut and walked and walked. I bought a book and walked some more. I felt content being where I was at that moment, only having to choke down memories of friends and past memories. It seems natural to experience something and then want to share it with another. A traveling companion. The past was experience and my present is worthwhile.

I was skirting through the Collected Poems of Pablo Neruda and stumbled across one of my favorites. It reminds me of the discipline necessary to move beyond your past, to not let it sacrifice your present with sentimentality. It is good to reflect on your direction forward, but not to the point of inertia. I have had such a great past that can be a difficult task. Apparently, Pablo struggled with it as well.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,’The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her voide. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

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