It’s my forty-second day in Beijing
Today is my forty-second day in Beijing, and so far it is the most serene. I’m tempted to say I’ve found a groove, a rythym that guides me from moment to moment, but the notion that I’ve tamed the city of Beijing is laughable at best. That’s one thing this country boy has grown to enjoy about the city, that consistent unpredictability that makes every trip outside the front gate different. The month of March has come and gone rather quickly, a bit like my second day of kindergarten, or the second girlfriend I ever had, or my sophomore year of high school. There’s less apprehension and more confidence, but the fact remains: I’m a 6’2″ Appalachian white boy with a mere 5 weeks of Beijing living under my belt. I’ve got a lot to learn.
I would attempt to string the events of the last month into a well-crafted, contiguous yarn, but, as I’ve already compared durations of time to ex-girlfriends, I think I’ll cut my losses and spit out these stories one at a time.
go to h***, Duke
I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t been the most faithful of sports fans during my time as a college student. Unlike most of my Tarheel brethren, I’ve only been to the odd basketball game here and there, last year I even skipped out on a big game to go to a play. Criminal behavior, I know. However, on 8 February of this year, as I was enjoying one of my last evenings in the States before making my way to Beijing, those blue devils from Durham came to Chapel Hill and got away with daylight robbery, leaving me and my esteemed colleagues speechless. We soon turned our collective attention to the next game, the chance of redemption on their hallowed home turf making out mouths water. March 3rd. The first time someone said it, my first thought was, hey, I’ll be in Beijing for that. Fast forward three weeks, and I’m waking up at 6 am to rouse my fellow Tarheels here at CET to head across town to the Den, a swanky, tw0-leveled sports bar in the heart of Sanlitun, Beijing’s foreign district. The game was worth the early hour, the hour-long public transport, and the obligatory 60 RMB breakfast. Needless to say, justice was served, and the best team won. Though I wasn’t wearing any carolina blue, though I wasn’t smeared with enough body paint to induce fainting spells, and though I wasn’t able to storm Franklin Street after the final whistle per tradition, the early hours of March 4th were my proudest as a sports fan.
I thought my first crash in Beijing would be of the vehicular variety. A quick beep of the horns, some screeching, a bruise, maybe some blood, and then back on the bicycle. Not so. It started with my roommate lending me some tv episodes via a usb port. No problem, right? The first thing to go was my sound. No music, no skype, no premier league highlights in Chinese. But at least I still had the internet. That was the next thing to go. Then went the basic ability to save and open files. One day after gratefully accepting my kind roommates offer, I had to tell him, 小柯,我的电脑坏了! Xiao Ke, my computer, it broke! Luckily, I share my humble digs with a man with connections. Now I have a lovely fake copy of the Chinese version of Windows installed on my computer, which comes sans Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, or Excel. But there’s sound, there’s internet, and for a simpleton like me that’s about all I need.
It’s about seven pm. The sky is the color of unswept cement. I’m sitting in my hammock, strung between to thick trees that hang over the campus basketball court. Above the hum of a power generator, the birds are talking amongst themselves, and so are the cars outside the gate. The chirping and the honking are, each in their own way, ugly sounds. But together, in this lukewarm light, they’re just fine. Tonight is the first night of hammocking in Beijing. But Spring is coming, so it won’t be the last.