Sunday, February 1, 2009

My year

When I was very little, I lived in North Carolina. Riding on the bus to West Lake Elementary School, I'd peel away at the duct tape covering a scar in the seat in front of me, then readhere it. There were better ways to pass the time. I would think to myself about the year 1997. It seemed so far in the future. Thinking beyond that year was a bit too scary, because I don't think I wanted to get any older than that. On the bus, I thought about what I'd look like in 1997, where I'd be, what kind of girls I could get, whether I'd be able to resist the temptation of smoking, how well I'd be doing in school, etc. I pictured myself as a pretty tall guy with natural blond hair, wearing sunglasses, a denim jacket and bright orange shorts with a dragon motif. I very much wanted to talk to him. I would be twelve in that year.

Summer of '97, I turned twelve. I had been living in Pittsburgh for about a year after five years of North Carolina. My golden hair had wilted into dirty blond. Much to my chagrin, I did not own a denim jacket or sunglasses. I was a little taller, but not much. That was the last time it was the year of the ox. The first time in my life it was the year of the ox, I was born. I probably figured that out sometime that year. We probably went to a Chinese place and put the pieces together with the help of one of those paper placemats. But the foresight I was able to access when riding on the bus to school in North Carolina was a gift that had been lost. What would I look like in the next year of the ox? The thought never occured. Again, probably because of fear, or at least the desire to be ignorant. I don't think I wanted to know... The weight of the world has always been a pretty scary thing. Was I wiser when I was younger? I've always thought so. But then again, I was also more ignorant...

Jan. 31, 2009, it is the year of the ox again. I started living in China after 12 years of living in Pittsburgh, and the weight of the world is still a very scary thing. Maybe it's better that I didn't waste time thinking of what could happen


The celebration for the year 2009 was complacent and uninspired. I was with four other people when it happened, and I felt like we were the only ones in Wuhan celebrating. Jan. 1, 2009 isn't really important to people here. On New Year's Eve, people are more concerned about writing "09" on their checks instead of "08". However, a few days ago was the Chinese New Year. For the past two weeks, hearing a loud explosion outside your window is something which occurs several times an hour. If you didn't know that you were in China, you'd guess that you were in Gaza. At night it's pretty interesting to look outside my window because at any given time you can probably find, somewhere in your field of view, fireworks exploding. Every small store is closed, except for convenience stores (which are really only in business to sell fireworks).

I guess that's interesting enough, but at midnight on the eve of the Chinese New Year, everyone who had been lighting fireworks all week consolidated their efforts into one giant eruption. It was amazing! I've never experienced anything like it. It was like the city was exploding.

Some hanging clothes that caught fire because someone lit a rocket off of a nearby rooftop.

I also took a video of midnight in Wuhan, but I can't get it to work online.