By Hao Tran

When I close my eyes in search of a memory, something comes to my mind right away.  I see an escalator moving up and I am on it.  The steel steps move smoothly under electrical power of some machinery underneath.  So powerful, they lift me up and up against my inertia, my will.

I kid you not, this is the first thing that comes to my mind.  I am holding onto the black rubberized railing gritty from many sweaty palms.  It moves along too with the escalator.  I am heading to a bright lit space above, with thousands of kilowatts of neon lights.  It is so quiet.  So quiet.  No motorcycle noise like a thousand lawnmowers going off at the same time.  No cigarette smoke.  No people talking loudly.  No chanting in a pagoda nearby.  No jost stick smell, the kind of smoke that reminds me of funerals and cemeteries.  The kind of smoke that is comforting as it is hurting at the same time.

It is the transition of leaving, entering, and reentering.  I never understand how I always climb that elevator thinking about the dark place lit by candles and kerosene lamps and wish I could turn around and go back.