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During the Snowstorm

14.2

Reunited Mountain and Seas

49

The crowd gradually dispersed, and Yin Guo found it hard to stay put. Soon enough, she headed toward the shoreline to indulge in the sea's embrace.


After using the day to catch up on sleep and acclimate to the time difference, she was now wide awake as the night settled in. It struck her all of a sudden that she hadn't even set foot on the beach until this moment.


Meanwhile, Lin Yi Yang remained comfortably seated beneath the coconut tree, his gaze fixed on Yin Guo as she frolicked in the distance.


He once mentioned how he admired her long, straight hair, so she intentionally let it grow, allowing it to cascade nearly down to her waist. As she dashed forward, the seawater playfully chasing her, her lithe legs blended into the water—a testament to her fair complexion and slender grace.


When the waves finally caught up, urging her to retreat to the shore, he could spot her petite round face from a distance—no bigger than his palm. The clarity wasn't necessary to discern the location of her dimples or the radiance of her eyes.


Vividly etched in his memory was that night outside the inn- during the snowstorm. She had donned a white woolen fisherman's hat, and under its shelter dwelled eyes imbued with an enigmatic allure. With a delicate motion, she lowered her scarf, unveiling her entire countenance. She was positioned on the steps alongside her luggage and bestowed a courteous yet slightly awkward smile. Expressing her gratitude, she inclined her head in a nod.


Back then, he knew nothing about her. She might have been just a Chinese tourist visiting New York for a few days while he was studying in Washington.


Back then, he didn't even know if he would ever see her again.

Back then, he thought he was acting a bit oddly. Her small gesture of bowing and thanking him made him wish time would slow down, allowing him to watch a little longer.


Yet, he did nothing and said nothing.


As the years passed, he grew accustomed to his usual ways.

Until, just moments before departing in a taxi, her younger cousin dashed towards them, insisting on swapping WeChat info. Without a moment's pause, Lin Yi Yang handed it over. Who knew how long it had been since he'd added a new friend.


Had her cousin not been there that day, the young woman who had gracefully bowed and expressed her thanks might have remained a memory of that snowy night. Their paths might never have intertwined.


......


In the background, Jiang Yang and Fan Wen took a leisurely stroll and caught sight of Lin Yi Yang stationed there. They ambled over to exchange greetings.


Spotting them by his side, Lin Yi Yang nonchalantly inquired, "Do you think my wife is beautiful?"


Without deigning to reply, the pair simply walked away.


As Chen An'an walked past, Lin Yi Yang beckoned him closer and repeated the question, "Tell me, is my wife beautiful?"


"Let's hit the bar first," he suggested, drawing her close and extracting his phone from his pocket, brandishing it before her. "Your friend is here."


Lin Yi Yang rose to his feet, still holding her hand, and collected their flip-flops. He motioned for her to rinse the sand off her feet at the nearby water basin.


Having secured two tables at an outdoor bar earlier, Lin Yi Yang had arranged for dinner to be ready, settled the bill, and ensured seats were reserved for Jiang Yang and the others. Wu Wei, not much of a fan of swimming or fireworks, had made an early departure.


As for the rest of the group, they stayed for a while before heading off.


So, the first person to meet Zheng Yi was unexpectedly Wu Wei.


He hadn't expected Yin Guo's friend to be a girl even taller than Lin Lin, with casually tied black hair. She was probably as tall as Wu Wei, with legs longer than his, and she was wearing shorts. She sat down and introduced herself with a smile. Within a couple of sentences, Wu Wei was already feeling dizzy.


When Yin Guo and Lin Yi Yang arrived, these two figures, who had been a constant topic on WeChat, finally had the chance to meet in person.


With an extended right hand, Zheng Yi took the initiative and cordially said, "Hey there, fellow alum."


After exchanging a smile and a handshake with Lin Yi Yang, the four of them took their seats.


Before they could even settle in, Zheng Yi asked the most curious question, "Back then, when she said on her social media that you're 'not that handsome,' what was your reaction?"


Lin Yi Yang paused for a moment.


It felt like a distant question. His initial thought when he saw that post was probably, "She actually came to DC."


Wu Wei seemed amused, saying, "You also criticized him before?"


He gave a thumbs-up to Yin Guo, impressed with her ability to handle setbacks. Clearly, she wasn't swayed by appearances.

"I was just joking that day," Yin Guo said, unable to deny it.


Under the table, she discreetly kicked Zheng Yi's leg.


As Lin Yi Yang and Wu Wei exchanged words, Yin Guo took a moment to send a WeChat message to Zheng Yi:


Yin Guo's message: Why did you bring that up as soon as you got here?


Zheng Yi: I was just trying to lighten the mood.


Zheng Yi's follow-up: How about we switch topics?


Zheng Yi's continuation: How did you manage to discover that hidden spot in Hawaii where you two were being all secretive the last time?


In Yin Guo's response: ...


(Note: The phrase "嘿嘿的无人区" in the message refers to a secretive or private area where they were engaging in intimate activities.)


Before long, the entire group had gathered.


In the outdoor section of the bar, nestled near the innermost tables, Lin Yi Yang's childhood friends had formed a circle.


Jiang Yang was the last to make his entrance.


He carried his guitar, weaving through a few tables before reaching Lin Yi Yang. Passing the instrument to him, he added to the jovial atmosphere.


Amidst the laughter, chairs were rearranged, and tables shifted to create an intimate space where Lin Yi Yang and Yin Guo could enjoy each other's company in solitude.


......


Yin Guo looked at him and said, "Wait, can you even play the guitar?"


Lin Yi Yang grinned but didn't answer.


"He couldn't play at all before," Jiang Yang jumped in, "I gave him a crash course recently. Like, a 70-day boot camp."


"...Wait, is he going to propose?" Zheng Yi, the only friend from the bride's side, was also surprised.


Seeing a proposal unfold during their very first encounter? Now, that's something unexpected.


Knowing Lin Yi Yang's nature, he wasn't exactly a maestro of these semi-public exhibitions. After all, he leaned more toward being introverted. Luckily, the surroundings weren't teeming with Chinese tourists, and the folks at nearby tables didn't appear to share their Asian background, so their conversation was likely safe from prying ears.


He briefly dipped his head to recollect, with Jiang Yang murmuring a few lines of assurance to keep his jitters in check and ensure he didn't lose the melody.


Yin Guo observed the unfolding scene like a silent observer, refraining from uttering a single word.


Lin Yi Yang had his eyes on her too.


It had never crossed his mind to attempt something like this before, and he was well aware that he wouldn't get another shot at it in the future. This was a rare opportunity.


Those encircling Lin Yi Yang were intimately familiar with his disposition and character, having known him since childhood. They shielded him, crafting a sheltered realm where he could feel cocooned within a confined sphere.


Gradually, the soft strains of a guitar drifted from this cozy nook—the opening notes of "Yellow."


He wasn't exactly a natural at this. Step by step, he'd picked up the skills from Jiang Yang, and that had brought him to where he is today. It all began one afternoon when the idea of marrying Yin Guo sprouted in his mind before he'd even made his way to her place. That marked the start of his preparations: booking a hotel and mastering an instrument.


Naturally, he'd also contemplated the worst-case scenario. If things didn't pan out as planned, he'd mulled over having Jiang Yang on standby. However, in keeping with his perfectionist tendencies, he was adamant about tackling this on his own.


Still, his rendition didn't possess any grandeur. Lin Yi Yang, who often navigated life with apparent ease, surprisingly approached this endeavor with great care, wary of stumbling. Despite Jiang Yang having supplied him with notably simple sheet music, he was vigilant about avoiding errors.


No one had ever been privy to the sound of Lin Yi Yang's singing.


And it was common knowledge that his musical prowess was lacking. No one is a virtuoso in every arena, but fortunately, the song's complexity wasn't overwhelming, and his adeptness with English made humming along relatively effortless.


Even those who happened to find themselves in this secluded corner wouldn't catch the sound of his humming.


However, Yin Guo had already etched the song in her memory. Even when he sang so softly that the lyrics were nearly imperceptible, she could still discern precisely which line he was crooning.


That line – "Look at the stars, look how they shine for you."


He looked up, locking his gaze with her eyes.


That line – "You know, you know I love you so."


Again, he looked up, meeting her eyes once more.


As the song came to an end, the guitar's notes faded away.


The first applause emerged from the tables outside their little haven. A couple of individuals surmised it was merely a gathering of Chinese tourists having fun. They praised the performance with laughter and complimentary words, deeming it quite impressive. Jiang Yang turned around to offer his gratitude.


Yet within the midst of the group, these two were enveloped in silence.


Tears welled up in Yin Guo's eyes, her gaze a crimson hue.


Lin Yi Yang had kept the song's significance a secret, never sharing it even with Jiang Yang, who'd taught him how to play.

It was like a hidden treasure, a connection shared exclusively between them.


He had simply let Jiang Yang in on the fact that this song held immense significance for him and that he had to master it.

Jiang Yang's grasp of the matter extended only to the notion that the lyrics were touching, particularly the line "you know I love you so," perfect for setting a romantic tone.


However, for Lin Yi Yang, a cocktail of a bar, a melody, and the starlit Hawaiian sky was what he needed.


And now, at this moment, all those elements had seamlessly converged.


"I'm not sure if you've ever seen an old movie called 'The Truman Show,'" Lin Yi Yang shared with her in Chinese, a language exclusive to the inner circle, "There's this guy named Truman in the movie. He lives in a world that's all a lie. Everyone watches him every day, and they all know it's a sham except for him. Then, a girl shows up and wakes him up, reveals the truth, and guides him out of that false reality into the real one."


He took a brief pause and carried on, "In the past decade or so, I've sort of built my own fake reality. It looks good from the outside, but it's not what I want. And much like in my story, a girl entered my life, yanked me out of that make-believe and into what truly matters."


Even after all these years, he could still remember how it felt when he added Yin Guo on WeChat and scrolled through her posts.


On that day, he worried about losing the signal in the New York subway, so he spent a whole hour at the entrance refreshing her updates. During that time, he didn't just learn about her; he also glimpsed into the world he used to know.


The social circle back in his home country, the circle he was once familiar with.


As he scrolled through her posts, he listened to the hushed conversations of people in the subway talking about the halted transportation system, the severe blizzard, and the widespread school closures... All while he was engrossed and couldn't stop scrolling.


Still wondering, what did all these surrounding noises—the foreign traffic congestion, the blizzard—have to do with him?

Lin Yi Yang's hand found its place on the guitar.


Once again, for her sake, he accomplished something he would never have considered in the past. He hadn't pursued such endeavors during his youth, devoid of artistic inclination. He even believed that men who engaged in such activities were rather uninteresting. However, he took up this hobby in his pursuit of winning her over.


"Yin Guo, thank you," he conveyed.


"Thank you," he repeated.


She could feel it, tears trickling down and landing on her thighs and hands.


Shaking her head, she whispered, "I didn't..."


"I know what you're going to say, that you haven't done anything," Lin Yi Yang completed her sentence.


But you've given me so much—


I watched each one of your group match live streams in the Washington pool hall, replaying them countless times.


Your wish to meet me helped me overcome obstacles, stepping onto the field for the first time in over a decade.


After winning a match, you crossed half the arena, held my hand, and passed on the joy of victory to me. You probably didn't know what else you transmitted.


The fervent love for a sport and the pride of being a king on the field—those were all once owned by the Lin Yi Yang of the past.

Lin Yi Yang locked eyes with her and slowly said, "I want to marry you."


"Yin Guo, I want to marry you." This was his innermost sentiment.


He locked eyes with her and then asked her, "Do you want to marry me?"


...


He wasn't telling her, "Marry me."


He was asking, "Do you want to marry me?"


The girl before him, her eyes welling up with redness, brushed away tears with the back of her hand, nodding in a steady rhythm.


Lin Yi Yang grinned.


Extending his hand, he cradled her face in his palm, his fingertips brushing away her tears.


No matter how I struggled or fought, the version of me from the past was plagued by a constant emptiness. Life didn't seem fair, so why bother grappling with it like this? Without a clear destination, without genuine desires, and certainly without someone I absolutely needed to be with.


Until,

During the blizzard,

I met you.


Look at the stars,

Look how they shine for you,

And everything you do,

Yeah, they were all Yellow.


......


You know, you know I love you so,

You know I love you so.


——《Yellow》

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