Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Postcards Without Postage, pt. 8
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.