Fade Away

Sitting by the window in Starbucks, I opened my laptop to read “A Husband’s Response to Various Views Against Marriage.” The half cup of coffee next to my computer had already cooled. Outside the window, through several tall buildings, I saw the hazy sky, which seemed somewhat gloomy and melancholic. Few pedestrians walked by, tree branches swayed gently, and leaves trembled slightly.

Sitting beside me were two young women, probably in their twenties or thirties, elegant and quiet. They conversed softly, their topics drifting, likely including dissatisfaction and regrets about family and relatives. They sat facing each other, occasionally looking at their phones or exchanging a few words.

As time passed, the words of Kierkegaard were obscure, his style casual, and I finished reading without understanding what he said or what he intended to say. It’s hard to say whether it’s a translation issue, or if it’s inherently disorganized, or maybe I’m just not focused enough.

At that moment, the two girls beside me got up, holding their coffees. Yes, they pushed open the door and were about to leave. With their backs to my line of sight, they moved leisurely, slowly walking away, turning around the corner of a building, and disappearing.

However, just half an hour ago, they were still sitting beside me.

I suddenly felt melancholic.

I had never seen them before. In that half hour, they existed in my time and space. They leisurely conversed, the air trembled, and I could feel it. So, for that half hour, I was certain of their existence. Then they left, and in my space, they ceased to exist entirely. Can I assume they still exist somewhere? Of course, experientially, this isn’t a question; they’re not ghosts. But what’s the significance? If I assume they still exist, what does that mean to me? We had no interaction, no shared history; I didn’t know them, and they didn’t know me, just a half-hour encounter.

But such encounters are numerous, most of them ignored or quickly forgotten. The shortest encounters are just a few seconds, like brushing past each other. The longest encounters might be a whole day, like being in the same bookstore. The ending is, of course, that we didn’t have any interaction, then we disappeared from each other’s existence, and in the days that followed, we might never see each other again.

This reminds me of the days not long ago when I was in Kunming. I spent a lot of time at a Starbucks by the Green Lake. Perhaps that was the most beautiful Starbucks in Kunming. The store was based on an old building, with a double-sided glass wall in front, facing a two-way road lined with neatly arranged old trees, tall and vicissitudinous. Cars came and went, crossing the road, leading to the Green Lake. It was November or December, and flocks of white seagulls played on the lake, scrambling for food tossed by tourists. Sometimes they would collectively leave the lake, fly into the air, after circling in unison, lightly landing on the water.

There, I met a slightly chubby girl with fair skin, whose appearance was pleasant. She always wore a light green ancient-style dress, with long, dense black hair, tied in a shallow braid, sitting quietly in a corner, working on her notebook.

After realizing her existence for the first time, followed by many subsequent encounters. Each time, I was very aware of her existence.

Once, I arrived at the store first, ordered a cup of coffee, sat facing the glass wall, drinking coffee, and staring at the Green Lake. Suddenly, she appeared again. She pushed the door open, and we locked eyes for a few seconds. She smiled unexpectedly, and I clearly saw her smile, a kind of surprise, or maybe a bit embarrassed. From it, I knew she also became aware of my existence. As for me, I pretended to be calm, but in reality, I didn’t know if my expression at that time revealed my awkwardness.

I actually hoped to see her because she attracted my attention and made me like her. I hoped she could accompany me for another afternoon.

Soon after, I left Kunming, and I knew that seeing her again was almost impossible.

What kind of feeling is this? Like a parting of life and death, knowing in consciousness that someone has completely ceased to exist in the world, but unable to accept this reality for a long time, resulting in confusion, and the world becoming exceptionally subjective, everything seeming so unreal.

Time is something we cannot grasp. My world is constantly changing, people and things that once existed with me come and go, appear and disappear, but I am powerless. Then I fall into a deep loneliness and helplessness. This loneliness makes me sad, this helplessness makes me feel weak, struggling with life. me feel weak, struggling with life.