{guest post} hope’s opened suitcase;

{hey loves! i’m currently reporting from d.c. and whoa boy do i have some stories for you guys. let’s give a teaser, shall we? it involves the venezuelan embassy, a 26 mile bike ride, a date (?!?!) at a punk rock show at an ethiopian restaurant and chili. any ideas? more on that later. but here’s a post from the lovely hope! she is just the sweetest and this post has me tempted to flee to china. it’s that good}

It’s negative fifteen degrees, snowing, my jeans are around my ankles, my hands in someone else’s urine, and I’m trying to aim my wee into a squat toilet outside a temple. It was my 2nd day of China, I’d lost my beginners-chopsticks on the first night, tried to mime-communicate to various Chinese citizens and I’d just peed a little on my hand.

The temple had a lot of rubbish, some frozen fish, a rabbit with a broken neck and some trickets for sale. So my first trip overseas was not touristy-sit-by-the-pool-tanning, but since I didn’t have the option of going home, I’d have to go hard.
You know that quote about not remembering days but remembering moments? There are five moments in China that really sum up my time there:
  • Biting into an xia long bao (a steam soup dumpling). Oh, the powdery white flesh, the gushing of the hot soup: orbs of perfection.
  • Dropping my mitten and having the people around me, in the middle of Shanghai, scramble to pick it up and give it back to me.
  • Climbing up a mountain to drink green tea from a farm.
  • Having a shot of “Three penis” whiskey, which contained fermented deer, dog and seal penis with ex-pats (oh, the classy jokes that followed).
  • Watching a man light a firework in the middle of the street and then non-chantely walking away while it exploded behind him.
At the time, these moments, and many others, felt like BAM! Lights were swung around and now blasted across the entire stage. I felt the freeing possibilities of life outside of mainstream Western values and activities. Things with the quality of everyday-ness, like university marks or what TV shows are on, became trivial: a meaningless absurdity in the face of this humbling, expanded notion of a shared existence.
Coming home was like when you have those nonsensical dreams before waking, and you try and grasp the details, but they slowly slip away. You’re back enjoying your routine, catching the bus, chased by the same worries, fused with your to-do list, laughing with those whom you love, answering your phone, sitting to wee in a stand-up toilet, secretly waiting for the next time everything is thrown open again.

{if you’d like to guest post while i am traveling, shoot me an email at mackenzie[dot]filson[at]gmail[dot]com!}


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