I am in New Haven t0day. It is amazing how just a little bit of Chinese is enough to make me feel happy, a bit teary and homesick – but not really homesick. It is a strange kind of feeling, as if I have been sectioned off into too many pieces – too many lives that do not coexist in practice – China, everyday family life in Montpelier, professional/academic life here. I feel like I am never wholly present.
Walking back from my office this evening, I walked past a couple of Chinese women with small children. One of the mothers was trying to get her daughter to leave her friend’s house (where she had clearly spent some time playing). “好吧! 好吧! (alright, alright) 走吧! 走吧! (let’s go! let’s go!)” Just a few months ago Jason and I were using those very expressions on the playground.
I am still trying to figure New Haven out and seem to get lost just about every time I get in the car. Tonight I decided to get dinner at in Indian Restaurant on Howe street but never found it. Instead I ended up by the train station and decided to eat at a Chinese Restaurant, The Royal Palace. The second I walked in there, I began to feel weepy – the bad reproductions of Chinese paintings on the wall and the Chinese pop music playing just really grabbed me. I ordered 鸡蛋炒河粉. It wasn’t good but I got to speak a little Chinese and reminisce about our restaurant back in Guangzhou.
On the way back to the car I saw a little grocery store across the street and decided I should stop in to get a piece of fruit or something for breakfast. From the outside it looked like a little health food store but it turned out to be a Chinese grocery. I bought some Chinese greens Mei-mei likes to stir-fry at home tomorrow night. I bought dried red beans and brick brown sugar to make 红豆糕. In the freezers I found some of Jason’s favorite, 奶黄包, and Jie-jie’s 葱馒头. On the way out I was pleasantly surprised to see a large stack of mooncake tins, including mooncakes from 广州酒家 – a restaurant we frequented many times. Naturally, I sprung for the mooncakes even though we are planning to do our own at home when we celebrate moon festival at the beginning of October.
Can you tell that I miss China?