It rained for a short time while I was running, but it was a cooling rain that felt good. A thick cloud blew in from the Pacific right over me, and a gentle rain fell for a while. My legs became two soggy matchsticks, clumsily pounding the pavement of the Embarcadero.
The running made me realize how weak I was, how limited my abilities were. My lungs screamed. My head spun. I convince myself to put up with the pain because running offered the only time for me to be alone and without thought. I ran in a vacuum. It’s not a complete void of course, a stray idea or memory will sometimes creep in.
I stop when I’ve reached Pier 39. I’m winded and a familiar pain starts to emerge from my left knee. Now I remember why I stopped running in the first place. The kneecap hurts in a peculiar way, a little different from an everyday ache. These are the only knees I’ll ever have, and I hadn’t taken care of them. A single sailboat skimmed lazily by in the distance. I stare at an American flag flapping wildly, seemingly mocking my current state. I shift my weight to my other leg. Soon, I decide to sit down on a bench, away from the sea lions and the flocks of tourists who come to admire them.
As soon as I sit down, the levees break and thoughts come rushing back in my head. I think about a date several months ago, where we sat at the water’s edge a few piers down from where I was today, watching a massive 450 ton crane dredge mud from the ocean over onto a gridded container. We never figured out what it was straining and sifting for; the grids being spaced too far apart for anything we could think of. I can’t say for certain if the crane itself knew what its purpose was. What guided it? Had it assured itself it’d recognize what it was seeking all along if only it believed?
That day the stevedore became an astronomer and the ocean’s depth: his universe. Searching his small patch of sky, day after day, beyond sick pay and children’s birthdays for yet-to-be-named stars. I threw my arm over her shoulders and together we watched him diligently carry out his sisyphean tasks. I’d see her only once more after that day.
(Editor’s note: They say “write what you know”, but for so long all I knew was Asian Loneliness™…and now that I’m in a healthy relationship I don’t really know what to write about. Do happy people even know how to write?)
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