Feeling nervous. Like the old woman that I am. China seems like a place of teaming hoards, a mysterious land where I might get lost in some hidden cranny and never be heard of again. Of course, I know this is silly. My daughter tells me she was apprehensive at first, but it’s just like anywhere else.
I know a little about the modern history of China from the Teaching Company course Jerry and I watched. It is a history filled with suffering and violence, and with the terrible mistakes of Mao. Earlier there were stubbornly self serving domestic regimes, mired in traditional hierarchies of the past, then there was callous and vicious exploitation by the west, and finally savage invasion from Japan. Mao at first looked like a liberator to the exhausted masses, but he ultimately revealed himself to be a megalomaniac whose ideas were out of touch with the real world.
China today is the place where everything we use comes from. A place of earthquakes, of polluted air and water, the origin of the flu, the land of the one baby rule, the United States’ main creditor. It has a great wall and wondrous art, a strange tonal language, writing without an alphabet and books that are read backwards. All this seems very risky.
My pretty granddaughter, Katy, has been here this week and is going to China with me to see her mother.
She’s a little nervous too, but she’s one of my most competent grandchildren. She has spent her time here organizing her life, filling out papers to defer her student loans, filling out papers for her Peace Corps assignment in the Dominican Republic where she will be working with disadvantaged teenagers, paying her bills, and trying to learn a little about China.
But she plays too. She enjoys a glass of wine or two with Jerry and me in the afternoons. She went kayaking with Felix, an elderly island friend. She is now buddies with my friend Ria, who is younger than me, but as I frequently remind her, not young enough to be my daughter. Ria dropped her off at a party of young adults last night and she stayed until the wee hours. So you see, Katy mixes easily with people of all ages.
I have been trying to instruct Jerry on how to arrange for renters in our vacation apartment — the other side of our duplex. We are booked for a large part of July, but still not much in June so he may have to deal with inquiries. And I am urging him not to neglect watering my flowers and vegetables; and to remember to put food out for the birds.
Leaves on the trees are now lush and dark green. I live in a sea of green. My yard is full of bird song. Starlings are raising families. The trees and feeders are bright with intensely blue stellars jays, orange and black grossbeaks and yellow and pink finches. Jerry cuts the grass and it needs to be cut again a half a day later.
I am hoping some little green tomatoes will have developed on the tomato plants by the time I get home. They look vibrantly healthy now.
Tonight we will have dinner out in Bellingham, then stay in the condo. Tomorrow we get up early and cross the border to Canada. The flight is out of Vancouver at 11:15. Katy and I will step from the world of the safe and familiar to a murky unknown. Wish us luck.