Friday, November 16, 2012

"Second-Home" Sick?

Wow... just looking back here. It's been over a month since I posted anything. I went into my account and I saw a few drafts that I had attempted to write but.... they didn't feel right. I'm pretty sure I didn't have the heart/energy to complete them.

I've had a pretty good month in Taiwan here- away from this blog so it's actually too bad that I haven't posted. Hiking in Yangmingshan, swimming in hot springs/cold springs and "showering" under a waterfall there. Finding a BBQ stall in my neighborhood that is parked on one street pretty much every night of the week. The husband and wife team serves up an amazing variety of vegetables, meats, fish, on skewers.... ready to BBQ for you... etc. etc.

I was having a "hard day" tonight .... out of nowhere feeling "homesick" for China. It's strange and it makes me feel bad to have that kind of "second degree homesickness".... to be homesick for a home that's not my "HOME" you know? Because I don't want to upset people here.

I feel like if Taiwan was a person maybe he/she would say something like "We've got Facebook and Democracy what else do you want?!"  -- and maybe he/she would understand my moment of weakness and would really only be tongue-in-cheek kidding in saying that.... but to MISS a country that so many people on the outside label as "abusive, corrupt, communist" feels strange I guess. It feels wrong.... but then China isn't what everyone says it is. How China is, how China looks and feels depends on where you are standing, where you are IN China. There is movement happening. Movement in the "DIRECTION" of democracy. I'm not sure how it is going to play out.... but it is happening in so many small ways. The dots will eventually connect. There ARE people in China who WOULD speak out against the self-immolating Tibetans- if only they KNEW about it- if the government did not censor the news. There are people who HAVE spoken out in shock and anger about the forced abortions- once the news was leaked onto Weibo. People KNOW that their news is censored. People use a variety of coded language online to get around the censors and talk about what is bothering them. There ARE protests against "local" - it's never blamed on the "central CCP government"- government officials regarding land grabbing, etc. And the people usually win.

If China was a relationship on Facebook it would be "It's Complicated". That, to me, is the worst... when I see that on someone's profile I ask myself "why?" ... why even engage in something like that? But with China it's a fascinating ride, it's a billion different stories, it's a hundred small cultures with their own "local languages" tied up in the mother tongue, common language of "Putonghua"-Mandarin and it's evolving. China is evolving. Maybe that's the reason. You don't give up on the caterpillar. You don't throw away the seeds of the flower before the rain falls. For all the stories of "fake goods" and "censorship", "human rights abuses" and "cheating/stealing ideas" , there are ALSO people who are fighting against these things. People in China who value creativity and freedom of speech and human rights. People who are opening up and changing. I remember riding up in the elevator in my apartment building in Foshan one day last year and having a small conversation with a woman. The woman asked me "Zhongguo hao bu hao?" - pretty much "What do you think of China... good or bad?" and I said "Hao". Because it was. For all of the craziness as a foreigner, my first year abroad.... it was "hao".  Then, there was another instance where I was at Starbucks ( of course... lol) and this woman had her baby and I was saying "hello" to him and smiling and when they were leaving the mother said "Tell Jiejie bye bye" ... and I thought that was sweet. "Jiejie" is "older sister" so pretty much she was telling him to "tell your sister (me) bye bye"...Chinese has VERY specific words for each SPECIFIC person in your life/family member. So I thought it was nice that I was "Jiejie". I wasn't "Ayi" - which means Auntie- a word used for OLDER women.  I wasn't "Waiguoren" - foreigner. I was OLDER SISTER. Despite NOT being blood related, race-related, at all. It was a really brief, but a very touching, memorable moment. He IS my younger brother... my "didi".... in the family of the human race, we are ALL each other's jiejie, gege, didi, and meimei.

Chinese people actually, in a way. trust foreigners more than they trust other Chinese people. People in China trust foreign goods/foods more than food bought in China - a girl I met on the bus on one of my monthly "visa runs" to Hong Kong confirmed that with me as we looked at other passengers with their bags of goods and talked on the bus ride "home" to Foshan - where her boyfriend drove me home. GOOD CARING PEOPLE.

Speaking of good and caring.... a 4 yr old Chinese boy actually taught me how to say "I want to kiss you". - a very good, caring phrase that EVERYONE should know. lol. My school last year was in a shopping mall and next door was a clothing/shoe store. The son  of the owner 4 year old "jun-jun" had come to one of my demo classes but his mother did not enroll him in our school. Still, we were "neighbors" and we stayed connected. I would wave to him and smile and he'd laugh and make funny faces. One day he came running by the front door, in an obviously playful mood and he said ran by a few times saying "Laoshi.... *giggle giggle giggle*... laoshiiiiiii.... Wo xiang qin (δΊ² ) ni!" - I asked the receptionist what it was that he wanted and she said laughed and said that he was saying "Teacher, teacher I want to kiss you!" - I think he knew he was charming and such a flirt! lol. So of course I replied... "Wo YE xiang qin ni" - I wanna kiss you too! and we lived happily ever after. lol. :p

This is not at all where this blog was going originally.... but at 2am I guess there's no turning back from the tangent now.

I've met some amazing friends here in Taiwan and I'm doing more than I ever did last year- taking REAL Chinese classes- speaking/reading/writing  and getting around more regularly.... not just going from work to Starbucks and back again. lol. I want to create a SECOND blog for Taiwan. I think that would be better.... to post REAL TRAVEL stories.... not just "heartsick" contemplative "diary" writing. Writing here now feels like I'm in a new relationship and I'm sleeping in my old bed with my new partner. It doesn't feel right to post in "Katy's China Adventure" ... when everyone (except the CCP) knows that Taiwan is not a part of China! :)

I'm "ok" now... currently 2:35am. That's the trouble with homesickness though- you don't really get a warning. It's not like cramps and your period or an itchy throat to signal an allergic reaction. It sneaks in. It's funny, realizing that I just said "homesickness" again.... because this has nothing to do with "my home". *SIGH*  But anyway, I know if I stayed in Foshan I would not have had HALF of the experiences I've had already this year. This frustration/longing/regret of situations, how things turned out last year is just a feeling.... high tide, low tide. It works itself out. Actually, right before posting this blog I accidentally opened up a "draft" of a blog here that was a translated message from LL and it was when we were fighting.... and seeing that pretty much killed 90% of the "longing" for "yesterday". It was a small blessing, a little wake-up call. I may not always know where I am. But I know I'm where I should be.

Last day of working together Best Learning, Foshan China. Me ( and my TA Metis) and the rest of the staff and some little boy... I think he was one of David's ( in the glasses) students.

AND here are two pictures of "my boyfriend". The first one was at the demo lesson. The second one is more recent - when I was leaving Foshan. He looks a little homeless with his box and his yellow rubber glove, but I promise you he's not. ;)