Daughter-in-law?


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Asia » China » Hunan » Zhangjiasai
October 3rd 2006
Published: November 28th 2006
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An interesting day to spurt a little seed. I was woken by "ai" (literally "aunt" - Cam's mom) waking me up to get some clothes out of my room, she said not to worry I could go back to sleep but I'd already half woken up. Almost immediately after I opened my book to start reading there was a phone call. Turned out it was Wan Tao (Sayles' Chinese name) calling to invite me and Cam's parents over for the day. I was told to get ready and then Sayles arrived long enough for me to put my shoes on and take off again on their motorcycle leading the way for us. Ai had brought a case of Bai jiu which I thought nothing of until we got really close to their house and she told me it was Sayles' older sister's wedding day.

Apparently we'd come for the wedding - my first Chinese one. And how strange! We sat down to eat a pretty huge breakfast almost immediately. The bride was walking around holding her wedding dress up the whole time. She had really tall black almost cowboy boots under her dress, which was pretty standardly western. Once we finished eating we waited for a little and then the firecrackers started going off to signal the arrival in 4 black cars of the groom (in the front) and his family. Once the firecrackers stopped the groom got out and went into the house with a bouquet of flowers. Now this is the strange part. I'm standing there with my camera waiting to see what he'll do in the house when all of a sudden I become the center of attention. Everyone seems to have crowded around ai and shushu (aunt and uncle - Cam's mom and dad) to ask about me! I stand around for a few minutes but am not understanding much so I go closer to the house to watch the bride and groom before they sit down to eat, and the English speakers (who can maybe say 2 sentences) are summoned to my side. I ended up talking to Sayles' older cousin in Mandarin about the US for a bit. When the bride and groom finished eating they went around giving everyone (even little kids) 2 cigarettes and 2 pieces of candy. You weren't supposed to refuse either so ai and I gave our cigarettes to shushu. Then the bride and her father quickly went inside leaving the groom outside. More firecrackers started as soon as candles and incense were lit. Once the fireworks started the bride and father quickly rushed out and she did 2 bows to the table where the candles and incense was along with 6 plates of food with red signs on top. After bowing her father rushed her to the groom and she got a piggy back ride on his back to the car before opening the door and getting in. All while the firecrackers were still going off. Now that I think back on it it was a bit comical.

Afterwards we hung around for a bit until we decided to leave and buy some moon cake for some neighbors we went to visit before going back again. This time I got a bit bored hanging around and ai took me on a walk to see Sayles, Cam and Kast's old school. When we got back I was still a bit bored. I felt like a little kid. I couldn't hang out with anyone by myself as I wouldn't understand them and even though people were sitting around playing games I didn't feel like playing as they were gambling. I watched the games for a while and then got bored and ended up back at ai's side. I think she really loves babying me, she's good at teaching me names of things as she's constantly asking me "what's this?" and I'm even getting used to her Hunan dialect as she has to say the same things about me so many times. She never seems to tire of telling people about me. She told me when cam first told her I was coming she was a bit frightened but he assured her I could speak Mandarin and now she's even asked me to be her daughter as she only has two boys.

After eating lunch we sat around and at one point she asked me if I had a boyfriend. I said "No but there's someone I like" "Where are they from?" "Here." "Dalian?" "They are in Dalian now." "Oh!" She and the woman who was with us laughed and teased me so much the whole room knew and were soon doing the same. Ai said our homes are so different, Ai's is only a little okay and mine is REALLY awesome. I said it's not the house that makes a place good it's the people in it. America has things that Hunan doesn't and same the other way around. After we managed to escape (literally) we went to see a lake and she told me she'd really like having me in her family. I told her it was up to Cam and she understood.

We then went to town for some spicy food and to print the pictures I'd been taking. You know that movie with the city girl who finds out she's a princess and has to change her ways to be more royal and all the mistakes she makes doing it? That's hw I feel here at their home sometimes. I had to do the laundry with the washboard again and insisted on doing it myself this time even though ai wanted to do it for me. She's faster and better at it since she's done it so much longer than I have. Lailai (grandma) just sat there laughing for a bit before trying to help me, I refused telling her I needed to learn. She said I am smart to try and learn. Then she sat back and mainly gave me pointers from afar. Afterwards I went to get my book so I wouldn't get bored but ai took over and showed me the fields and asked me to help keep the fire under the stove going (by feeding it hay). She said if I were giong to live there I needed to learn how to do things. Cam called and she talked to him for a bit before I did. I told him about them knowing I like him and their neighbors wanting me to stay for a while and he asked if I was going to. He kind of had that "if you love them why don't you marry them" attitude about his parents liking me. Afterwards ai told me even if nothing happens with us she's still my family and nothing would make her happier if we were together.

By then the neighbors had come over and were sitting with lailai and didi (literally "little boy cousin" - the cute 4 year old) picking the rice puffs out of their flowers and separating the two. I saw down and helped them and we talked a bit about the US and had dinner together - a really great jou (rice soup almost) and something that ai thought I would think was spicy. So far only the food I ate in town today has been spicy. She told me she was giong to make something so spicy it'd kill me tomorrow (meaning it would be super spicy). Shushu had his bai jiu. I swear his bai jiu (which has barley in it) is about 10 times stronger than normal bai jiu. Didi showed me the English he knew and was eager for me to teach him more tomorrow. Lailai had listened to his tape so she knew some of the English words. No sentences though, just words. After dinner I was escorted to my bath and told I could come socialize after but when I came back it was just ai and lailai. Ai told me about Kast inviting her to live in Dalian but there was nothing for her to do there and no one for her to talk to, plus her family's here. She likes it her a lot and they must work here. She's really proud of her boys even though she said her heart almost broke when they first left - Cam was 15!

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