Today I am tired. This is the kind of exhaustion that settles in your bones and is indicative of not enough sleep or sunshine or saccharine or…something. For the first day since I’ve been in China, I feel like going back to my apartment, curling up in my bed, and ignoring everyone and everything. This may be the start of sickness. I imagine myself a polar bear jolted out of soothing slumber to find cubs running rampant.
But that doesn’t make for a very good blog entry, so instead I’m typing out something I jotted down on Saturday while waiting to go shopping with other teachers. It’s not long, but it’s the best I’ve got right now.
The soft breeze of autumn replaces the sticky sweetness of summer. I sit now comfortably outside, sweat no longer dripping down my brow every time I get the nerve to walk through Chengdu’s streets.
Everybody walks, bikes, exists outdoors here and — as I watch them scurrying in ant-like fashion to responsibilities or friendships — I wonder how many eyes watch me, the lone lǎowài scribbling in some foreign manuscript into her silly pink notebook, blue eyes darting back and forth in a furious attempt to soak up as much of this world as possible.
I’ve been here a month and am feeling decidedly at home in China despite a phone that doesn’t work, internet that is faulty at best, and not even the most rudimentary grasp on what anyone around me is saying.
On Friday, a Lebanese man who has been in China nearly a decade told me he knew I was new to China because I smiled so often, said hello to so many. I try to recall my personality in the states (a hard task as I am not as objective as I could be here) and find the grins and greetings are nothing new. Whether reflexive of personality or upbringing, I’m the small (enough) town girl who will always hold open the door, say “thank you,” and smile.
He’s not the first person to point out my blatantly jovial disposition.
I feel like I’m faulted for that, for being…happy.
Optimism is a foolish, undesirable trait in the world today and because I’m not a pessimist I must also not be a realist; so silly and stupid stuck in my own little world of naivety.
I have to smile at that. (No other reaction quite makes sense.) My world is naive, yes, but it is a world full of redemption and forgiveness, second chances and hope. A place where friendships are born of intense curiosity and kept long past would-be expiration dates. It’s where tomorrow burns bright with the could-be’s and less attention is given to the would-have-been’s. And, wherever you find yourself around the globe, there’s always room for another person here.