Posted on March 20, 2015 by Jing Liu
Yang is a friend of mine. I met him in class in 2014 and my first impression of him was cold and unfriendly. He seldom talked and he was always by himself. We didn’t even say hello until we were assigned to the same study group half a year later, and that’s when we started to get familiar with each other. As we learned more about each other, he started to open his heart and tell me a story hidden deep inside his psyche.
Yang grew up in Beijing, and he met his girlfriend Chi when he was 17. It was his first love. They were still high school students then where they used to sneak out of school, drank beers while sitting on Tiananmen Square late at night. They talked about dreams and the future while lying on the grass in the park. They forged ID’s to get a hotel room. They went to an Art Museum and stared at one painting of Vincent van Gogh for a whole day without talking. They did all sorts of crazy things together. They were classmates, friends, soul mates, lovers and eventually went to college together. They were happy for four years. Yang thought they would get married, because he believed Chi was the one. Unfortunately, something bad happened. Chi passed away suddenly because of a car accident. It’s very painful for a young boy to accept this fact. He fell into a deep sorrow, felt lonely, helpless and desperate.
Beijing is a city full of good and bad memories for him and he couldn’t stay in the city anymore. He decided to go abroad to escape from the painful memories. That is why he came to Upenn, where he hoped a foreign environment and stressful graduate student life would occupy his mind. But the loneliness even made him worse and he turned to drugs and alcohol. He lost himself, and didn’t believe he’d have the ability to love anyone else, including himself.
He said he’s very thankful for my friendship, because of one unintentional word of mine. A long time ago when were not so close, I was talking about a scar on my knee and I said: “time will heal all of your pains.” I smiled and I looked into his eyes. He realized, yes, maybe time is the cure.
Is time the cure? He doubted, he waited, he struggled, he tried.
He tried so hard. He is better now, at least he no longer looks like the lonely and sad boy as before. He communicates more with others, he goes to parties and he meets more new friends.
But I can still feel his weakness inside. He’s like wearing a mask. Time cures him partially and gives him the ability to camouflage. There is still a long way to go for time to heal his heart. I believe the power of time and so does he.
Photography and Text by Jing Liu, Copyright 2015
About the Author: Jing Liu is a graduate student in Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.