I am a stranger in a strange land. I need connections or I will wither and die. And the connections I need are not just with my native people, or with people similar to me, but with the people who inhabit this strange land. I learned to speak Chinese out of survival instinct and I speak with everyone I can, randomly, impulsively, to maintain a healthy equilibrium. A constant contact that helps bouy me when my spirits sink.
I read of the toxic culture that poisons the ability of Mexicans, among others, to pursue happiness in the US, but so far there is little in the way of scholarly studies on the level of toxicity in China’s culture. Perhaps because the immigrant population is so low. But we all know about the China Blues. For years I relied upon taxi drivers, one-second encounters, and a potpourri of interactions with young, old, male, female. When in dire straits, I headed to the Tibetan district in Chengdu – or if I were lucky enough, a trip to western Sichuan’s Tibetan regions – to lift me up when I was down. I could always count on a nod being met with a nod, a wink with a smile, a gaze with understanding.
But I’ve noticed something over the years … some Tibetans don’t nod anymore. And some of them even meet my overtures, my pleas actually, with hostility. And I am trying to figure out what happened.
Tell me how to keep the smile on my face when I start every morning hacking like an old revolutionary until lung butter splatters the toilet bowl like adolescent lust. And clings to it like a first crush. Every morning ya’ll. I quit smoking and I remember someone saying that the first few weeks/months after quitting you’ll be hacking stuff up. But I know the difference, I’ve hacked up cigarette lung funk before and the consistency is different. What’s rocketing out now looks to be actual chunks of lung.
And my son stands there and watches me. I am his source code for all things, so no sooner do I wipe my lips and moan like I just barfed up last night’s party, then he hacks and spits for all he’s worth, letting me know that he’s doing his best to learn from me. I look into the mirror and see blackheads forming twixt me brows and feel the rattle of leftover lungsnot like the distant rumbling of Mongolian hooves. It aint over yet.
OMFG i have to get out of this place. I have to get my son out of this place.