When I came to U.S this January, I had little room in my baggage for books. Besides the five volumes of Gustave Flaubert’s Correspondance, I only took Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil). I picked up this edition from an ambulatory book vendor in Paris, but since then, I took it everywhere I went.

The last poem, titled Le Voyage, is one of my favorites. Baudelaire is pessimist, for whom travel is appealing but disappointing.

The world, monotonous and small, today,
Yesterday, tomorrow, always, shows us our image:
An oasis of horror in a desert of ennui!

But still, we keep childish curiosity and yearn for elsewhere. When I was young, I dreamed Paris and Roma. The impossibility to realize these travels made them more charming. But What I looked for in these places? I had never questioned myself until I went there later. I still had no answer when I was sitting in the beautiful Luxembourg Garden. Suddenly, all that I had dreamed seemed so far away and the overwhelming joy was not the beautiful scenes but only the fulfillment of this long-distance and long-dreamed voyage.

I love the word “voyage”. In French, it now means all kinds of travels, despite the means. Even the destination demands just one hour’s drive, I still prefer to say Bon Voyage to myself or to others, because the word associates with new things to discover, a surprising journey and a fulfilled appetite, which break our routine and make ourselves excited even before being on road. “Life is short, Voyage more !” Has this commercial sentence touched other travelers than me?

When I had no time and no money, I read travel memories, novels and all kinds of stories. As Baudelaire wrote in this poem, we are more eager to learn that life is elsewhere.

We wish to voyage without steam and without sails!
To brighten the ennui of our prisons,
Make your memories, framed in their horizons,
Pass across our minds stretched like canvasses.

But what the others say is always not important to me. It feeds my imagination and makes my own voyage more desirable. Travel in words may be more comforting than the real journey.

When I am old and have enough money and time, do I still have the insuppressible desire to go out and see the world? Maybe at that time, I only need to revive and write down all those voyage memories which are not really mine.

To a child who is fond of maps and engravings
The universe is the size of his immense hunger.

Hope that we remain this child, even the question “Are we there yet?” bothers the whole journey.

Meet another Me

How could I describe my emotion when I found, by chance, my former blog, which was suspended six years ago. I accidentally entered the wrong mail address and taped the same password, wishing to write a new post in my present blog. The former one, written in Chinese, just showed up, making me astonished, as if I was in a dream. I hardly recognized the front page and had no idea that was it. It was my former blog annexed to MSN, which was moved to Word Press while MSN invalided the relevant service. I just accepted that MSN died out of my day. I might never think to save this blog. For all these years, I didn’t know the existence of WordPress, since it is censured in China.

More than two hundreds articles, written from 2016 to 2010 ! Full of emotion, I clicked my mouse to read several posts. Ma memory was motivated but the past of my life was not clear enough. I skimmed my college life, the beginning of my career and the new life after my marriage. Is it me? With such an innocent and emotional style?

I met another me, whom I now barely recognize and may not agree with. Was I naive at that time, believing that romantic and pure words were the most suitable to express my daily thoughts? Or just because that my thoughts at that period were as simply as my writing fragments.Was I only capable to be authentic to my life or Had I already indulged myself in a romantic and lyrical writing, which made my past appear so pure and beautiful ?  It’s only six years between the present Me and the much younger and much simpler Me. What has happened?

Let me translate the last post of that blog, written on September 14th, 2010, in Paris.

The age of Paris

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” said Hemingway. But why in one’s youth?

I dream, when I’m very very old, I would live in Paris.

Every day, with so much time and enough money,

Dressed up daintily, a lighter skirt, red lips,

I would admire the organ in church, enjoy a coffee at terrace,

taste small but exquisite chocolate,

I would appreciate a movie, at noon, in a desert cinema,

go to opera and indulge myself in the grandeur of the surroundings.

My partner would be with me, soak up the sun in silence,

pass an afternoon at a park, where the noise becomes now tolerable.

I might learn to bake cake, but still desire to try different restaurants.

Never I would mind the body shape, because I have already got the secret.

No longer I would  prefer to stay all day in library, Neither to pass my day between books,

Read, but only a little, Write, but only occasionally,

That’s all.

Time changes people. I don’t regret the change. I could never write in that way any more. I have moved on with my age. Have I become more cynical? Have I lost my pure optimism in life? Have I turned out to be more complex and less credulous?

The past is beautiful and the present should be the same, but with different perspectives. I dreamed a lot when I was young. Sometimes, I still dream the same thing, but with less idealism and more consciousness to cherish the present pleasure.