The feeling remains, though the events that spawned it died long ago. So, I've come to learn, did one of the men responsible. He almost certainly never realized the impact he had on me, and likely wouldn't have cared even if he did. Then again, the latter is an unfair assumption on my part given the brevity of our acquaintance.
Either way, the mystery of distant lands stays with me, even if those lands weren't as distant as they seemed at the time. I measured space in lives, not miles, and this was nowhere near my life. It was hard to imagine any place farther. The mountains of Southern California might well have been the mountains of Mongolia for all I cared.
Of course, I had certain advantages over folks in Mongolia. If I knew that then, I probably didn't care, as any sort of logic would have ruined my narrative of persecution. Not that life was easy, just that it could have been orders of magnitude harder, which I didn't necessarily appreciate at the time.
But that's how time rolls. It does what it does, no matter what. Where I once measured distance in lives, I now measure time in sighs. It's like a rainbow on the horizon that looks close enough to touch but that can never be reached. So instead of grasping at time, maybe we learn to enjoy its colors, its facets.
Maybe we learn to love the choices we make rather than lamenting the ones we decide against. Democracy's a bitch. Or maybe we're more inclusive and gather it all for later. It's like Kathy Acker said, “If you ask me what I want, I'll tell you. I want everything.” Or Yogi Berra: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”