China Fit

Damn, I am having a true “China fit” today. All I can think about is China, my last days there, the things I never put into this blog, the very very last day in Beijing when I swore I would never go back to that city, my sitting and shivering alone in my apartment with no heat and only my laptop and the world’s slowest Internet connection (my property agent assured me it was broadband), the despair I felt when the waitress misunderstood my request again and brought me some kind of animal’s guts, the evil guard at Fudan University who wouldn’t let me visit my friend at his dorm, the sensation that with SARS Beijing had spun out of control and was off somewhere in The Outer Limits, the fight every morning at work to get on the elevator, the first time I saw a woman — very well dressed — blow her nose Chinese-style, the half-day wait at the bank, watching someone brush her hair over the food at a buffet, the lady at the barbershop who tried to drag me upstairs for a special massage, the time when I…. Well, you probably get the point.

So what is a “China Fit”? Is it when you feel disgust at China? Revulsion? Anger? No, it’s absolutely the opposite. It’s when all you can do is recount those things, and in spite of the shock, in spite of the frustration, in spite of the infinite sense of helplessness, you still miss it and you still wish you were back there.

I thought of Singapore as a haven, and it was — for a few weeks. China, for all of its, um, challenges brought out my creativity. It inspired me. I almost had a sense of mission as I wrote about it between January and May. And now, as I try to write about it from far away, I often feel it is forced, like I’m grasping at things to write about. Not always. But often enough. I have never, not once, felt as inspired as I did during those five months. The only time I came close was when I wrote about saying goodbye to my friend Ben, and that’s only because I managed to mentally transport myself to that night in Beijing; I was actually in Beijing as I wrote it, at least mentally.

[Uh-oh. I can see this is going to be one of those posts that I’ll consider deleting later. Too emotional and written too quickly.]

Anyway, the only thing on my mind at this instant is What Next? As much as I am tempted, I feel I cannot go back to China for more than a visit. I have some major commitments back home. But I would be lying if I were to say I don’t want to go back, and if the oportunity arose in the future for me to return, under more comfortable terms than before, I would be damn tempted.

Maybe my upcoming trip to Beijing in a few weeks will remind me of China’s myriad “uniquenesses” and sober me up. But tonight, for some reason, I am intoxicated. (No, not literally.) Writing this will hopefully bring me back to earth.

Gou le.

The Discussion: One Comment

Ah, the sweet pain of creativity!!

It’s no accident that lots of great art and writing get’s made around war zones and such, and on the flip side it’s no surprise that the anesthetic gas that Singapore seems to exist in has dampened your creative spark.

November 16, 2003 @ 7:02 am | Comment

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