18 August, 2007
Subject: kthxhai!

Hello some of you!
Psst, pass it on.
(I am missing far too many addresses, so please tell your family and friends, and anyone else you think I might be carrying little pieces of in my heart, that I am safely in China).

I realize that any rational person would have understood that I was going to China when I said "I'm moving to China" i.e. I was leaving the for China. But apparently I am still rather surprised that one of the side effects of leaving for China is an Arrival in China, followed by the further complication of actually Being In China.

I hadn't allowed myself the thought-space/time to set out with items for packing, any freshly-folded expectations or suppositions about what China would be like. In fact, I didn't start packing objects-for-taking until a few hours before I left for the airport, and I put together one suitcase. I didn't bring any finery or baubles, but I remembered to pack every single song that I knew, and I count on them to keep me warm, harden my heart to grief, and carry me through any lost spaces where I am even unable to grok what I am feeling.

At first there was a keen sense of loss, questioning my judgment, retiring my cell phone. I was back to relying on telepathy for instantaneous communication, going through serious withdrawal and coveting others' ring tones. As I reached into my bag to jot down notes, I realized I had brought Colette's harmonica, a black rock from John, a shard of pottery from the Gaylamonster, and a sweetie had hidden a bar of chocolate and granola bars in my pack. I was definitely set for China.

Then I was inundated with smiles and good omens.
A woman sang spirituals in the airport bathroom. A fortune cookie had the perfect advice (oops, I forgot to insure its activation by eating it before I read it). There were probably about 30 people I got to know on the airplane from L.A. to Hong Kong-- our flight was delayed eight hours. According to prophesy, I crossed the international date line over the squiggly bit past Alaska, and in compliance with my instructions, I made the following recording: 36,000' altitude, < -50 'C, headwind: 3 mph, ground speed: 580 mph, 6.5 hours into the flight. (I hear from Nathan, that if you flush a toilet right as you cross the International Date Line, then after the toilet flushes, it'll be the next day. And I trust his information because he has copious copric experience with Bathroom Ninjas at the Oakland airport). I looked down over Japan and saw Mt. Fuji encircled by clouds. I lost my sense of time during the 14 hours of movies and landmass-spotting. Landing at Hong Kong was exciting, (as) per Paul's prediction. There was an instructional video on how to use the Hong Kong airport which lasted well over ten minutes, but it wasn't necessary. PCDR RPCVs will appreciate that upon our safe landing, I got my section of the plane to clap in the Dominican tradition.

Romantic nostalgic that I am, I checked my email in Hong Kong and wandered around feeling torn open. But I had just arrived in China and this was a country I hadn't yet cried in, and anyway, I despise the word "maudlin" after it was used in reference to me. But distance doesn't lessen my love, and that's final. You hear?

Exceedingly hilarious: Hong Kong to Xiamen, 307 miles and I filled out a report of health form for the Chinese government. List of ailments with check boxes next to them: " fever, snivel, cough, sore throat, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting, breath difficulty ... psychosis" I didn't check any of the boxes, so I figure I'm pretty much prohibited from sniveling while in China.

This morning, dragonflies sky-skittered in the typhoon-heavy air as I picked out characters I knew on buses passing along the ribbon of road against the beach-front backdrop.I learned about twenty characters today, and that was before the first meal. Now armed with a serviceable dictionary and Mitch Valentine as my guide, I expect to learn Chinese RSN (Real Soon Now). Speaking of Valentines, today is Chinese Valentine's Day, the number 8 in 18 being very propitious.

Ah, but all these are extraneous details.
What I meant to say is that I have arrived in China, and I'm now here. It's pretty awesome. But I have to go about the whole process of learning how to survive now. Not since birth have I experienced being unable to communicate with words, always knowing the language of the land. It's quite refreshing.
<3 and <9
(I'll have a new name soon).