To be honest, I did not want to write about this topic at the beginning because I didn’t know how to pick just a few days out of all the amazing days in the last decade of my life. And I thought even if I manage to pick those days out, I wouldn’t be able to do them justice by just writing a few sentences about them. Well, my concern is still legit, but I convinced myself to do it regardless. The truth is, something imperfect is better than the perfect thing that never exists. So here it is, the imperfect list of the best days of my decade.
The summer of 2009 — I was working and travelling in California for three months in the summer. I had my first taste of FREEDOM in the sense that I could say what I want, do what I want, and be who I am. I finally found what was missing the whole time and since then decided to fight for it so that I would always have it in my life. Four years after when I finished my bachelor degree in China, I left the country and headed towards a new life in Canada. The summer of 2009 was where the seed was planted.
April 20th, 2014 — I was about to finish my Master degree in Vancouver when I met Bozena and her son Martin. Shortly after, I was invited to their home for the Easter, on which I met Alex and the rest of the family. I had no idea at that moment that this family was about to become my family in Canada. I enjoyed every moment I spent with them and finally felt this is where I belong.
June 10th, 2014 — I travelled to Portland, Oregon, the USA from Vancouver by myself for OneRepublic’s concert. But it made the list because of a very different reason. That night, I couldn’t find a place to rest so I ended up walking into a nearby McDonald’s. I eventually fell asleep there until I was wakened up by the staff and was told to go away like I was some homeless person. For the first time in my life, I felt so humiliated, unfairly treated, and confused at the same time. On the other hand, I also realized that there are some many people less fortunate than me who are going through much worse situations and are being treated in a much harsher way every single day. I’m only scratching the surface here. What do humiliation and fairness mean to them when they have been stripped off of dignity a long time ago just because it only makes their life more difficult? But essentially we are the same – we are all humans who want to love and be loved.
The summer of 2014 — It was the most beautiful summer of my life and that was where all the crazy adventures began. After a major heartbreak, I decided to look for some change. So I went to Copenhagen by myself and little did I know, my whole life was about to change. Every single day of that summer was magical in every way. I was transformed into this daring person that I’d always dreamed to be. And that was when I met Anmol, the love of my life. I will always remember the night we met (my version) in the burger restaurant in the centre of the city; the night we met (your version) near the lake for the Summer Solstice Festival Bonfire; the night we partied and “gambled” in the basement of your building; all the days we travelled together to nearby countries and especially the hostel where we had a water fight near the lake, a catch-me-if-you-can around the piano in the living room, and a pillow fight in the room; and of course, on…
July 13th, 2014 — when we kissed for the first time. That night, I knew very well in my heart that this is not going to be just a summer fling. Looking back at all that we’ve been through, I think it is kind of symbolic that we met while travelling, fell in love with each other while travelling, continued travelling after we got together, and might eventually be travelling for the rest of our life. Anmol, I just want you to know, I love our story, and more importantly, I love you!
August 28th, 2015 — Anmol surprised me by showing up in front of my door in Canada, literally! I was laughing and crying at the same time, feeling thrilled, baffled, and just couldn’t believe what was happening. That was one of the best days of my life and definitely, the most surprised I’d ever been! Needless to say, we stayed together ever since.
September 21st, 2015 — It was the finale of the New Ventures BC Competition, for which both Anmol and I were invited by my mentor to attend. That night Anmol pulled me into the centre of the dance pool while everybody else was sipping on their glass of wine and networking with other businessmen in their perfect suit and tie. It was the last place on earth where I would think a dance would happen but we danced like no one was watching. I remember feeling so much in love with this man at that moment.
And, of course, the four wedding ceremonies we had. Yes, you read it right. We had FOUR of them! Each one was a best memory of my last decade.
September 3rd, 2015 — our first wedding ceremony in Richmond, Canada. It was the simplest but purest celebration of our love. We had the Commissioner who walked us through the formality and announced us, husband and wife. We also had my best friend Stella and her then-boyfriend with us to be our witnesses. They brought us a beautiful cake and my favourite board game, even though I lost in the end! So basically I played my favourite game with my favourite people the night we got married (for the first time). It was a beautiful night.
October 9th, 2015 — Our second wedding ceremony. We had a potluck with about 20 people I felt the closest to in Vancouver and my best friend Stella as our host. I loved how even though she is such a shy girl, she managed to get out of her comfort zone for me and even made a few really good jokes there on the stage. I still appreciate it till this day! It was a bit chaotic because we were still in the gym not too long before the party was supposed to start and we had to rush to finish shower right before our guests arrived. But it was full of love and laughter.
October 6th, 2016 — Our third wedding ceremony in Wuhan, China. It was also my first time meeting Papa-Mama in person! Can you imagine, we only got to meet each other at our third wedding ceremony?! Both our parents are so incredibly open-minded and liberal in the sense that they trusted us and our choice of partner so much that they let go of all the traditionally crucial steps of acceptance! I am so lucky! Although we had some major issues while arranging the logistics of the wedding due to cultural differences and personality clashes, we eventually made it work, beautifully. And the ‘family honeymoon” afterwards was also unforgettable. It was not easy for anyone of us to adjust ourselves in such a short period of time to accommodate others in the group, but we did it and we had fun.
February 26th, 2018 — our fourth wedding ceremony in Bhilwara, India. This one was the magic – everything was beyond what I could’ve ever dreamed of. More importantly, I experienced unconditional love from family members and friends who were technically strangers to me. Before that trip, I really did not know it was possible. I didn’t do anything up until I arrived in India but everybody was already loving me so much and accepting me completely. It was so touching and empowering to be showered with love. On top of that, I was inspired to expand my own limitation of how much love I am capable of giving. It’s like an ever-expanding circle of love – the more I receive, the more I am radiating out. Words cannot describe how incredible that makes me feel.
January 2019 — We stayed with Gabi & Hestavan, the loveliest couple we’ve met since we started travelling. The highlight was the night they took us to the top of the mountain where we stayed the whole night around a bonfire and talked and talked until the break of the day. We were so high but so happy. The bird-eye view of Medellin was marvellous. That night, I fell more in love with the city, this couple, and the world.
September 2019 — We met Hossein and his niece Hamed. The time we spent with them will be forever remembered. They possess the purest souls I’ve seen in a very long time. They do not try hard to impress anyone, they just genuinely care about true friendships and want to share their love for life. I love how we took the road trip to their hometown, how we played the shooting game in their friend’s ranch, how we walked through the field where the grass was almost as tall as me, how we made videos under the tree with Hossein being the director, how we made mango pulps in the Indian way that grossed Hamed out… I love every moment we spent together.
May 9th, 2019 — After seeing my parents living a life of stillness, I decided to help somehow ignite their love and excitement for life. I found a 1970s themed moving theatre in a cruise that goes along the Yangtze River and I immediately booked the tickets. There was a live performance, dancing, singing, and photo-taking. My dad had so much fun that in the end he was behaving like a kid and refusing to leave. I had not seen my parents enjoying themselves this much for a long time. It is a remarkable feeling to know that I might have helped the people I love to feel alive again.
August 2019 — I took a solo trip to Baku, Azerbaijan for a month. In the beginning, it was scary to merely think of the idea of being alone after years of living with Anmol, my love and best friend. But it turned out to be wonderful. Yes, I was missing his companionship, his humour, and his gentle love all the time. But I am grateful for this experience for it helped me to re-discovered my courage, my passion for people, my curiosity for my surroundings, and so much more. Eventually, I gained new friends, beautiful memories, and most importantly, confidence for myself and awareness for the world.
October 28, 2019 — The first day after Diwali, the festival of light, in India. We went to Choti Nani’s (Hindi term for the younger sister of Anmol’s maternal grandmother) house with Papa-Mama, and had something called Chappan Bhog, a tradition in which people try 56 different dishes. Then we talked for a long time with all the guests, and played a traditional Indian game called Satoliya, in my long Indian dress — it is a very competitive game and I was playing with very competitive players too! On top of the food, what I absolutely love about that day was the group of people who are just genuine, insightful, unpretentious, and energetic.
November 27th to December 8th, 2019 — Vipassana Meditation in Karnal, India. This period of time I spent in India marked one of the highlights of my past one year travel, and possibly the best experience I’ve had in terms of personal development. I underwent a thorough examination of myself and learned how to reduce suffering for myself, how to truly become the master of my own mind, and how to start the journey of liberation for myself and others. It was a painful process but a very necessary and rewarding one. It excites me not only because how much I’ve learned about myself but also the potential of how much this is going to change the relationships I have with people I love and everyone I interact with.
The best days are countless. But honestly, what make life so beautiful are those little moments that we all experience, like how Anmol and I laugh together, hold hands while walking, watch a movie and feel so heartwarming just with each other’s presence; like how he whispers into my ears when I am half-asleep and tells me how much he loves me; like how we spend quality time with our family members; like how we exchange stories with others and feel one soul touching the other… Extraordinary things do not happen every day, but those moments of love and happiness are everywhere and are just as real. I believe that as long as I keep appreciating them, I will have another marvellous decade and many more to come!