Just as the wind began to pick up speed and the sun began to set, Jun and I made out way to the iconic Olympic hall. The journey there fuelled my imagination of the grandiose and spectacular image of arriving at this national pride. My body was motivated to keep moving as it surged with the feeling of awe one feels when standing on the exact same spot where a champion once stood. The historic moment of celebrating a victory or the crowning of a new glory, a feeling of chasing after a rush of invigoration only to capture for a fleeting moment what the Greek kings once felt, as they stood on the Acropolis, powerful and courageous. As my imagination played the slow motion of people rejoicing and the collision of golden cups, I thought to myself, perhaps this is what they meant by the importance of travelling.
As we approached Linnahall, the beauty of it seemed to slip further away. The sound of glasses clanking and the sound of laughter faded in my imagination. I stood at an abandoned place, used only for the gathering of underage teenagers sipping alcoholic beverages, or the lost at heart. Where was the moment of relishing in the glory of past champions? Where was the satisfaction of trekking past the city walls to find a national treasure? Was this all I was to capture; the reek of urine mixed with alcohol, the dampness of loneliness and the sedation of disappointment? I hid my disappointment and anger from Jun. Her goal was to reach a place where we could have a view of the sunset. She walked far ahead of me as I stood in the middle of the stadium, hoping to find an ounce of excitement buried in the walls. The further I walked through the grey eroding steps, the more I felt the corrosion of my hopes, rusting away with the abandonment of the stadium.
We reach the top of the stadium, where we capture a view of the sea front and the slow setting of the sun. As I listened to the breeze of the wind rushing against my ear, and watched the rhythmic waves lap against the shorefront, Jun offers me a Percy Pig gummy. As we look to the sea, we say nothing. Two friends sitting in silence, watching the sun set. Yet, every silence hides a riot.
Watching the waves lap against the shorefront, I thought about what it must be like under the sea; the school of fishes swimming by, the sound of seagulls muffled about the surface of the water. I wondered if I would be cannonballed out of the water if I swam to close to the back of the boat. I imagined how cold the water might be, and if the fishes would feed on my Percy Pig gummy. Finally I started to wonder how quickly my thoughts past, like how quickly I had forgotten about my chase and disappointment. I continued looking out to sea, staring into the abyss and it stared back into me. I felt everything I had been running from. This fleeting moment of time, the quick transitions between my emotional states, the anticipation and descend into disappointment, were all distractions that hid the raw mix of fear and excitement that comes with youth. The whole month, as I jumped from city to city, landmark-to-landmark, it was like an addiction to chase the past in search of finding a sense of empowerment in order to run away from my fears. Every sense of victory I had tried to align myself with was the self-deception away from the cries of weakness.
What I found as I laid on the cold concrete, feeling the coldness of abandonment and stagnation of activity was the freedom of being. Here laid a once iconic congregation, and now it stood, surviving the harsh winds and farewells of its visitors as it watched the routine of the sun rising and setting. I never found the fleeting celebratory spirit, but I uncovered its solitary strength. A place stripped bare of its glorious embellishments, revealing its scars and erosions, yet bearing the rays of the sun every single day. Still, it finds the strength to remain and stand strong long after the days of celebrations.
A celebration of a victory only lasts as long as you realise the next war, and there is always one more to fight. Perhaps the reason to travel is to unravel the mysteries of the unknown as you uncover the strengths of your self.
About the Author: Cherilyn Woo is a 23 year old an aspiring theatre director who loves the wonders of imagination. While she constantly hopes for world peace, she is always on the lookout for an opportunity to embrace the chaos of travelling. Having travelled to Europe, America and the Middle East, she spends most of her time in Singapore where she was born and raised.
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