November 1, 2012

Reflections of a Summer Experience in Beijing- Nicole

Thoughts from Places—Beijing, China

Our relationship is an evanescent memory that has flickered away. It's been an opaque glass paperweight on my mind. That's why I felt compelled to visit you, to see you clearly.

You're complex, multifaceted, and absolutely unpredictable. You're a place where traditional elements mingle with the modern, where contemporary buildings will never shadow your rich culture and history. It's easy to be swept away by millions of people. You immerse me in a new world, and I am excited by it. I've never before experienced anything like it.

You're a place of old roots that have been buried by the dirt of inequality. I fell from a blossom into the water, whose currents lead me to liberty. But I've returned to decode your mysteries, though I am captured by your beauty and lose my sense of direction. I only know that I want to find you, to learn about you for myself. No history books, travel guides, or newspapers can let me dive beneath your surface.

Take me back to those hot summer days when our voices drift away in the air. You are full of excitement and I am seeking adventure. You show me beyond photos and tourism. You lead me through secret passageways and allow me to see you like a traveler. The sweet taste of eggplant still dances on my tongue.

You're a place that first appears hectic like the celebrations of New Years, but on the outskirts, you are free from thick smog and public transportation. Cars are only specks in the distance; I breathe in this fresh air. I witness vibrant earth tones pain the landscape. Every mountain bears the formidable appearance of past emperors. If it isn't for your dare, I may not have climbed such vast structures, but you grab my hand and guide me across flowing rivers and down slopping hills. I remember reaching the edge of the wall; head up, arms flying, legs shaking. Your mountains dwarf me, yet I feel so infinite.

You're a place where rain pours from the sky, plopping the tarps that shield the roofs of the village inns. We dance in the puddles and chase the drops that soak us. These rainstorms wash away the sweat of the day.

You're home to cute babies and erratic driving. I'll never forget the conversations we share. Your friendliness warms my heart. We jump through the air and engrave our own seals. The ink stains my palms, but I like it that way.

You show me a school whose students have the spirits of stars that dream of growing up into constellations. Those glass mosaics and chromatic murals illuminate their light even in the dark. I wish we could give them spaceships, but we press our hands together, and let them run through, back to their classrooms.

I am walking for miles just to get to know you. Red lanterns light up the night sky as I wander through myriad markets, ancient alleys, and picturesque parks.

You're the place where, after an exhausting day, the gentle notes of a wooden flue waft down the underground tunnel. The light melody echoes as the sunlight pierces the opening of the passage. Above ground, a warm breeze rustles the leaves and swirls through the air. It carries our laughs and stories so that you can hear them.

I’ve never felt so boundless.

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