I left Yangshuo on an evening like a furnace, dripping with humidity and sweltering with light. I left in a flurry of teary smiles and sweaty hugs, feeling some of my heart stay behind. It lingered in the view from my sixth-storey window, built itself into the walls of the school. It stayed there in my friendship with Phoebe and with Ellie, in Paul's strange sense of humor, in the music of Alison’s laughter, in the sparkle of Jimmy’s eyes.
And as the taxi bounced away into the countryside, my heart soared into those wondrous wonky mountains, those undulating poems of peaks. It buried itself in the limestone of them, dissolved itself in the sky. It lost itself in that waltzing rhapsody of a landscape one last time and not all of it returned.
The mountains marched in crooked, swaying ranks into the distance—mountains the color of nearness and mountains the color of beyond. The mountains danced away into a sunset that looked like periwinkle dandelion down and gilded pearl. The mountains sauntered off into a smoky, haunted twilight and the mountains faded into misty dusk. A full moon came out to wish them farewell, wearing incandescent copper and an ancient, changeless smile.
And in the empty spaces where those runaway parts of my heart used to make their homes, I felt the slow simmer of untapped possibility and the gentle kindle of faith. I felt the unassuageable ache of pure sadness and I felt the sweet balm of hope. I felt fuller, somehow, because of those spaces and substantially lighter as well. I felt too many things to find words for in the end, but mostly I felt love.