Sunday, June 20, 2010

Guangzhou, China’s This Is It

Today was my last full Sunday in Guangzhou before my summer vacation begins. I marked the occasion by eating a large, filling dinner at a local restaurant and then going to Starbucks and spending exactly three times what I spent on dinner on one (1) tall iced coffee. Because I’m worth it.

Now with an introduction like that you might be expecting me to tell you about how much I’ll miss Guangzhou over the summer, how I’ll miss the unpretentious eateries, the warm summer air, the smiles of our neighborhood armless beggar — really, though, I’m pretty ok with taking a break from Guangzhou for a little bit. I like America. I don’t want to get married to America, but I don’t mind hanging out with America and fooling around with America a little bit, when America’s on-again, off-again biker boyfriend from Phoenix isn’t in town.

So even though it’s my last week in Guangzhou, do not expect any moving reminiscences. You should know by now that I am incapable of any prolonged earnestness or emotion. The closest I got to nostalgia was when I started singing “Graduation (Friends Forever)” to Wang Jiang this afternoon on my way to lunch, but he just waved his nubby little arm spokes at me and asked for more money, and that made me uncomfortable, so I stopped and moved on.

Countdown to America starts now.

(Editor’s note: there really is a beggar without arms near our school, and he does usually seem to be in good spirits, but there’s no way around the fact that his situation is just really sad. One thing I will not miss about Guangzhou is that there are some people here who are very poor and miserable and, I suppose, very, very desperate. Gus and I try to be generous with the people we see around our school, but we also know that many of them may be in the control of crime bosses who send beggars out to raise funds. (For anyone who was about to say, “just like in Slumdog Millionaire”: no, because in real life everyone doesn’t get up and dance together in the train station at the end.) I have deep sympathy for this man, and I hope that by invoking his cheerfulness here I haven’t trivialized his suffering. OK! Back to regularly scheduled jovialities and jests.)