Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Postcards Without Postage, pt. 8

Dear Robin,

It's not the same without you here. Not that you've ever been here before, but in your own way you had come with me every time before. This time I am wandering, looking for clarity, searching for answers. My return has been more hail mary than bullseye, and I keep wondering if divine hands are cupped in the midst of the mob, ready to cradle me from falling.

I wonder why your presence shielded me from this anxiety; wonder why you gently accompanied me down the frantic streets and through the manic markets; wonder why you laughed with me on the evenings when some odd event reminded me of your patchwork idiosyncrasies. All I know is that the sense of wonder has faded this time around. I'm told the newness has run its course, but I wonder if I just finally ran out of excuses to pretend there was an us.

Yet as I wander, I am finding love in this place. The drive-by "Hello!"s from nervous school boys; the guesses that I am from Africa, Pakistan, or Malaysia; the clusters around heated Mah Jong arguments; the elderly ladies dressed in red jogging suits and dancing to techno music on my way to class; the sweet potatoes roasted whole inside a sooty barrel; the white-hatted men carrying prayer mats to the mosque for evening prayer; the beautiful woman who sells stinky tofu in the alley behind the market, wants to marry a foreigner, and just learned that there is an ocean between here and America; guests who come bearing gifts of yogurt or salty crackers.

There is room for me here. Amidst all the strangeness, I feel welcome; like you made me feel. Amidst all the familiarity, I feel estranged; like you made me feel. I wonder, will I ever be able to hold this place and these people in the parts of me that forever belong to you? You never were one for cohabitation.

No matter the answer, I will take it all in. I will spread my arms, expand my diaphragm, and breathe China down to the tiniest toenail of my soul. And when I exhale and let go, I will hope once more that she will stay.


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