last weekend, I made the unfortunate mistake of letting my entitlement seep through a good time. I spent a great day with friends in the Chinese countryside, wandering through fields, getting stuck in the muck in giant coveralls, picking baby garlic and water celery, catching and releasing four of my own fish, and eating… a lot. It was enjoyable and relaxing and most of all just freeing to be me amongst friends. I even won a game of Mahjong, despite my complete lack of skills. But as the day ended and we all (9) clambered back into our mini bread van to head back to Huangshi, we hit an ass load of traffic. What could, and should, have been a nice drive through the country (which was), then a quick twenty minutes on the expressway, turned into bumper to bumper stupidness. All of our heads were swaying like dashboard bobbleheads because we were so tired. I kept waking up as the weight of my head suddenly dropped off into space, not knowing I had even closed my eyes. We finally got to the toll booth and as we approached our queue, I noticed cars creeping up from all corners to jump ahead in line. Lady Gaga! their cars act just like their people. Cutting queues makes me so angry I could turn a deep shade of green and all my clothes get tighter to the point of exploding off my body (except of course my little cut off shorts, and since I’m a girl, my bra too). We sat there letting two cars ahead, and I saw a third making it’s way to join the other assholes. Everyone in the van was, by this point, getting irritable. We were tired, dirty, and just wanted to be home. So finally, I opened the tinted window I was sitting beside stuck my head out, looked directly at the drivers in the third car and shouted "look at my face you fools!". The mere fact that I am white amongst yellow stands out on most days and gets me most anything. But behind tinted windows this doesn’t make a difference. Behind a tinted window I’m just another human being, being cheated, degraded, worn out, pulled to pieces. But I took my difference and I used it, I do use it. Everyday, feeling entitled to get away with what I want however I want. And when things don’t go my way, well… look at me dammit! I immediately felt disgusted with myself after that display of subversive racism and blatant entitlement. But it worked. It will always work, which isn’t right, right? It made everyone in the van laugh hysterically, but I think that it was half relief that we weren’t stuck anymore. I couldn’t rightly laugh along, I just didn’t think it was that funny because I knew what was going on in my heart.
BUT, on the upside I went across the river this weekend with my waiban’s daughter. We tried flying her shitty ass kite that brings a bad taste to my mouth from one fine day last fall. We wandered around and talked to some farmers who let us take vegetables for free. They also gave us a big bouquet they had secretly collected as we left. The sweeties. We kept walking till we made our way down to the river bed again. I noticed a bunch of boys further up the river and left Sally and Angel to do their own thing, and inspected these little explorers. As I got close, they were just as I had expected. Tiny Huck Finns. They had rigged up a raft that traveled by pulley line to a small boat sitting a little further in the river. I asked if I could have a go on their raft, and they stared incredulously at the white devil wanting to play their game. I used my most ridiculous smile to convince them that I was just as serious about playing as they were, and they decided to let me join them on their raft. I went to the boat, rocked around, and they pulled me back. That was all. We laughed, well more just one of them laughed with me while the other two (maybe the older brothers) continued to be suspicious of me. I took a bunch of photos of them playing on their river raft, and then left. As I was walking back to the ferry with Angel and Sally, I heard some yelling behind me and turned around. The boys were chasing me and I didn’t know if, at that moment, I should be scared (kids carry air soft guns here) or to be happy because they wanted me to be their friend. As they got closer I saw the smiles on their faces, and relaxed. The oldest, and perhaps coldest, reached out his hand towards mine, and I did the same, then he dropped a small red threaded, jade necklace in my hand. A token of friendship. I couldn’t believe it. It made me so unbelievably happy. It was the sweetest moment. Just the sweetest. Like I could taste the bumble-berry pie dripping out of it.
So I sit here between feeling outside most the of the time, and even doing things to make myself even more of an outsider, but then, oh then, there are times when a token is extended to make me feel as much of where I am as those who’ve laid their old hundred name roots here, and those are the sweetest tasting moments ever. The sweetness I want to live in, but often don’t.
(these events happened in reverse order, but I like to end on a happy note, and the former just doesn’t end tasting like pie, does it?)