“What was he like?” She asked me.
“Whenever I think of him, I think of the day I spent with him last winter. That day has become one of my favorite metaphors. Christmas was still far away but the spirit was catching up with all of us already. The streets were covered in snow and the people of my neighborhood absolutely loved walking around holding hands and wearing coats that felt heavier than the load of responsibilities on their shoulders.
Chang – the kind of guy who would always choose such a day for a date – took me to a cabin beside a lake where his best friend used to live. Fei was an eighty-year-old shoe-maker who was famously known for her stories. When Chang was ten, his mother had to leave the city urgently and he stayed over at Fei’s place, listening to stories all night about birds that carried messages and hunters that befriended animals. That’s how they became friends.
Our date was nothing fancy. We spent the day talking to Fei and eating dumplings that she made. She shared Chang’s favorite story with me: Fei and her first trip to Tokyo. Fei’s parents had died when she was very young. They were on a trip from Harbin – where they lived – to America. Their plane, however, crashed in Tokyo and since then, Fei had always wanted to visit the city. She was in Tokyo for a month because she felt the warmth of her parents every time she walked through the streets of the city. Tokyo felt exactly like the last time she had hugged her parents.
Chang and I stayed till nine with Fei. I heard her talk about her memories and scars all day but when I walked back home that night with Chang, I felt like I knew him better. I knew the kind of movies he would like and a hug from him would feel like to my winter soul. That’s how you get to know people after all – by their choices and favorite stories. And that is how they become metaphors.”
My therapist smiled, wrote something on a notepad, and moved onto the next question. “What’s one city you’ve always wanted to visit?”
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