I have morning sickness.
I know what your thinking, I’m not pregnant, I didn’t eat some some weird genetically modified vegetable that resulted in a bun in the oven. It’s just that every morning when I wake up in China, it’s still yesterday in the States, and my lawyer is firing me off emails before wrapping up her day.
So after slurping down my bowl of breakfast noodles, I turn on my computer and hesitantly open her emails. They usually consist of signing a few forms or going on a scavenger hunt for documents as hard to locate as the holy grail. A Chinese Water Bill. Pages from an old pass port or a form that needs to be signed and scanned pronto. And if you think your local Kinkos is aggravating, try a Chinese copy center.
So instead of working on a lesson plan for a seventeen year old boy who doesn’t know the word nose from penis, I carefully craft letters back to my attorney and sip the rest of my coffee, hoping that my divorce isn’t what broccoli is to a child on her overloaded plate.
The nausea sets in and it wasn’t the noodles.
So I dash out the door and make my commute to school, a forty minute walk through Kunming’s Expo Gardens. I witness the sun rising over the mountains, waking up colorful blossoms as sure as an alarm clock. The path winds through a sampling of Chinese architecture, a large Buddhist prayer wheel on my left and marble sculptures of Chinese dragons on my right. I slow down, not to look at a mini pagoda, but to watch old timers practice Thai Chi. No sweats and T-shirts for them, they are dressed to the nines in silk pajamas.
As I keep on walking, I hear Chinese opera crackle through an old transistor radio. It belongs to white haired woman with a large fan in her hand, her body moving with the grace of the young lady she once was.
The weight of the emails lift as I take a short cut up a stone path that winds past bamboo trees and forgotten shrubs once shaped as animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Now they just look sad. I walk faster as I’m late, but not as fast as a few backwards walkers who pass me. They clap as they walk. It’s supposed to protect from Alzheimer’s.
In the distance, I hear boisterous laughs coming from the large rock garden on the hill. It’s not a comedy club; it’s the laughing yogis. They Ha-ha-ha as loud as a kid would scream, Olly Olly Oxen Free! in a game of Hide and Seek.
Their laughs make me to laugh, too.
I pass a group of ladies taking a break, their faces etched with lines.
Oh,if I could only read the stories they told.
I keep walking toward the school when my eyes drift up to the pointed peak of the Buddhist temple perched on Phoenix Mountain. When it’s back lit on mornings like that, it looks like the world’s largest chocolate kiss.
I forget about the craziness of a Chinese Kinkos as I round the final corner on my commute. I no longer hear the laughs of the Chinese yogis, but the cackles of children and the peacocks cawing in front of the school.
Then I think of a poem by Rabindranath Tagore:
The sunshine smiles upon the winter days of my heart, never doubting of its spring flowers.
My morning sickness is gone.