I stumbled upon a romantic scene while walking the streets of Chiang Mai alone on Valentine’s Day, under the glow of a full moon.
Confession: I have a habit of looking up at the moon at night and thinking about the person I have yet to meet, wondering if he is also looking at the same moon. It is a silly girly thing inspired by sweet scene in the animated film “An American Tail” — when two of the leading characters, both mice, sing “Somewhere Out There.” It is amazing how moments like these from childhood have stuck with me into adulthood. My lovelorn daydreaming habit is inspired by a cartoon about mice. So be it. The secret’s out.
Last night, I was doing just that — staring at the moon while walking. Before I could spiral into a funk about it being another Valentine’s Day without a date, I noticed some red lights glowing just below the moon.
Lanterns, they had to be lanterns, I thought to myself. They way that these red lights were floating in the sky so elegantly, so gracefully — they had to be lanterns.
I snapped out of my woe-is-me state thanks to a new mission: locate the origin of these lanterns. I followed the trail to Chiang Mai’s Tapae Gate.
Below is a snippet of the scene that I witnessed.
Couples, friends, parents, siblings, strangers — so many people, from all walks of life, were releasing heart-shaped lanterns into the night sky.
They were sending symbols of love into the air, on the day that celebrates the big “L.” It was absolutely mesmerizing and beautifully poetic.
My thoughts turned to all of the people in my life right now. Those with whom I would love to share this moment. Those with whom I would love to release a lantern. Those to whom I would dedicate a lantern before releasing it into the sky.
I suddenly felt a surge of love running in both directions, the giving and the receiving.
I wasn’t alone on Valentine’s Day after all.