Easter. Bunnies. Cadbury eggs. Egg salad sandwiches with tie-dyed ingredients. And oh, that entire Jesus dying on the cross thing. These memories have been edited from my mind, the folder deleted in 2014, being replaced with a toothy Chinese woman asking, “White woman, why does water full of sorrow flow from face?

My husband announced he wanted out of marriage three days before anything but Good Friday, as it was also our wedding anniversary that year. I wailed in a coffee shop with a friend, one infamous for Copi Luwak, something I call butt-bean brew, as it is made with fermented beans from the droppings of the Asian civet.

How apropos.

This year, my friend Lester, who is about as religious as a potato, asked me if I wanted to go to church on Easter Sunday. He was referring to Kunming’s Three-Self Church, a government-run church with camera monitoring to make sure you’re not peeping your Kindle instead of listening to the scripted sermon. I knew if I went, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the service. I’d be thinking about the nail.

Not a Jesus on the cross nail, but my nail, my cuckoo clock nail.  I had brought my cuckoo clock from Chicago to China, a lot easier said than done. My ex-husband abhorred the clock. The weighted pine cones, the tangling chains, the ticking, and most of all, the little bird, or just maybe, just maybe because it was a gift from a former boyfriend. Anyway, when my X was home alone,  the clock mysterious crashed on the floor, the fatally crushing the small bird with his wooden door, which is also the same place that I’m standing.

And with all of my life’s weird turns, I have ended up back at that same cuckoo apartment.

My Life according to Zillow

After I left China in 2014, I moved to Chicago for a year with a dam good wok, disillusioned that I could work out with my husband.  The plan was for me to be a dorm mother for Chinese students at a Christian school in Chicago, a gig that lasted about half a minute as the door to their dorm did not have a working lock. The school director’s promise that “angels will protect the boys” did not translate well with the Chinese parents. With no place to stay,  I brought my wok to Jesus People USA, where I exchanged cooking skills for room and board. It was as if I jumped into the pages of a John Irving novel, being a blend of quirky characters and adventure.

Just like with Garp, my strange tale came to end, when in the kitchen, I found a tumor the shape of an eyeball in a chunk of meat. I took it as an omen to take a good hard look at my life. I moved back to China to pick up the scraps of my life, first staying in a converted luggage closet of a student apartment, where I was totally grossed out by nests of long black hair on a white tile floor. Next, a spare room at a hotel where I’d find business cards from call girls slipped under my door each night instead of mints on pillows. Then a cockroach hotel for half a day, then apartment-sitting for missionaries–whom I’m sure lived better than their monthly supporters. Then a sunny little place guarded by a brigade of old ladies who hand-stitched slippers. Then finally, where I am now, which is also where I was.

The same apartment where my life crumbled in 2014 and my cuckoo was crucified.

I should pull the nail out but then the nail hole would remind me of the nail.

Hopefully, someday, Easter will be restored to a holiday where I can enjoy going to church, biting the heads off chocolate bunnies instead of eating frozen pea-sicles, and thinking about the nails of the crucifixion, not mine.

I’m not sure if this is soybean or pea flavored. Oh, for a DQ Dilly Bar.

Until then?

I think I’ll hang a picture. My dad drew this in high school. I don’t think he had his mind on classes.

my dad’s sketchbook, august 1947

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