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Published: March 24th 2007
I am really on the internet too long. About 7 or 8 in the evening, I finally made myself leave my apartment and go somewhere. I put on my tennis shoes, grabbed my Ipod and bounced out of the door and down my concrete stairway. I passed a couple of children playing a game of badmitton with two rackets and a bird. I passed the fruit vendors, the tanned meat fryers, the dvd salesmen, and several hungry students my age chomping on fish balls and meat-on-sticks.
I passed the newspaper stand and the 4 or 5 motorcyclists, always waiting there, and made a direct right at the corner. I walked past the over-bridge, past the flower shop, past Tian Tian, and finally made it to my destination: the front of New Mart.
At about 7 or 7:30 pm, all the elder women of the neighborhood gather at that spot, take their positions, and they all do the same routine dance to traditional Chinese music. Anyone who does not stop to admire this activity does not know how to stop and smell the roses. Sadly though, I think I had gotten there too late. They were still dancing, but I could tell the spirit in the evening was fading.
After being there about five or ten minutes, I turned away, started my Ipod again, and walked up the deserted road towards the small restaurant Kaffy, Jeremiah, Mike, Tyler, and I used to eat on several occasions a week. I was probably thinking about how much I missed them while I turned the corner there, towards the old apartment building of Kaffy and Jeremiah. I walked up the tall, steep concrete stairwell, which was lit up at the top by a bright crescent moon and the soft glow of a gazebo. As I climbed towards the bright moon, my view widened onto the large, flat area surrounding the gazebo. Dissapointed, I looked around at an area of complete silence.
I remember times of going to Kaffy and Jeremiah's apartment about 7 o'clock at night, and reaching the top of those concrete steps to be greeted by the noise of the chinese flute and women, along with a few men, dancing to the same classic routine.
It was the sound.....of silence.
I walked to the other side of the court, towards the broken down wall that looked to be beautifully painted by young artists. The area widened even farther as I looked down among hundreds of apartment buildings and the rounded, glowing squares of hundreds of thousands of windows. The valleys of stretching apartments were sheltered in by the dark, hazy shadows of the mountains in the distance. The cool wind fluttered by as Nickel Creek whispered in my ear. I turned my head towards the sky at the bright crescent moon, noticing how it stole the attention of the bright stars surrounding it. Keeping my head up towards the night sky, I walked over to the monkey bars. I hoisted myself up to the very top of them and just sat there. A woman walked by.
"Ni hao." I said.
She mumbled something in Chinese, I think it was a comment about how high I was. I sighed, and did a couple twirls on the bar. I sat there, on that high bar, as she walked by again. This time she stopped and tried to tell me something in Chinese. I think she was telling me to get down. That's not the way they use the monkey bars. I got down, and she told me I was pretty, and asked how old I was. 20?
"19 years old." I said.
She demonstrated the correct way for me to use the bars. You hold on to the shortest bar and just swing yourself back and forth. I asked her if she knew how to dance, like those women at the New Mart Square. She said she knew. Then she demonstrated. I asked her if she could be my teacher. I tried to follow her steps. But I looked ridiculous. She stepped to the side of the monkey bars, bent over, picked up a rock and scratched a square onto the concrete. There were four squares. She did the steps slowly and then stepped back. I stepped onto the square, and imitated her steps.
"Due due due!" She says.
I asked her what to do with my hands.
She turns her back to me and bounces her arms to the rythym of her steps. I follow her. I had it! I was so proud!
It was getting late and she had to go inside. I told her good night and left the now silent again and glowing moonlit area for the concrete steps to the deserted street. As I walked the 4 blocks to my apartment, I had a smile on my face that I couldn't, and didn't want to, take off. I love China.
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