And then there was church in the apartment, run by Michelle. She wanted us to respond to the message of the resurrection and there was a bit of dialogue which revealed how messed up Deb had been recently. And Holly revealed her tough train ride to everyone. And she cried a bit and I felt bad for being less than supportive. Selah.
Easter morning sitting around while the others are at church. With Catherine and Deb, which isn’t exactly who I’d normally end up hanging out with. Oh Deb, who needs to make everything about her and her jerk of a father. Last night in the van coming back from dinner there was a discussion about corporal punishment that turned into Deb talking about being switched when she was 15. Never about why things were happening, just “You broke the rules.” I realize things sucked for her but I have so little sympathy for a person who needs to go on and on and on about their problems. At dinner Catherine talked about how orderly her grandmother died and I mentioned how my grandparents were burned in their home, which made distributing their possessions easy. A clean break of a different sort.
I like Catherine a lot. She’s kind and considerate thoughtful etcetera. She’s had people say offensive things to her all the time. “I can tell by your dog that you won’t worry about having clean children someday.” Though really, the dog is filthy.
It’s funny how Dan and I are sort of ambassadors of the return from North America. When Deb was asked if she’d be back in China she said there was no way. Dan gave her two years. Maybe she’d consider it if she was married she said, but not as a single person. Dan still gave her two years. Karen Beiler’s coming back. I don’t know what it is about being single in China that bothered Deb so much. Maybe just the sense of being alone against a country. And it would be totally unhelpful for me to mention I can’t picture Deb getting married.
The axes she was talking about judging personalities by were Needy and Real. I don’t know her exact definitions but the implication was that she was both. I introduced the Cartesian plane to the mix (with the Fuck Grapefruit comic) and foolishly she asked “Where do you think I fit? No no no don’t answer that.” There was something else she mentioned being written on her forehead in 72 point bold font. Maybe NEEDY maybe not. There was tactful silence by the rest of us around these obviously agreeable statements.
But being back felt exactly the same as never leaving. I didn’t feel bad about that, though I sometimes felt I was a cautionary tale about how useless this time in China was for helping a career. How many times did I explain what my back home process was and how “the world” doesn’t give a shit about my time out here? Which isn’t to say I don’t value it. And why bother with the standards of success anyway? At dinner Julie was saying something about those standards being bunk and I said sometimes I can console myself with that, though often it sounds like a loser’s justification. Which it is. I don’t want to leave Winnipeg to be successful. I want to leave because it’s cold in the winter. That’s all. I want a floating life, drifting and free. Dan talked about nomadism and that’s a dangerous word for me. So romantic. So ignoring of the filth and the stink of the road. I’m carrying a hobo cup with me that clanks along on its carabiner. Hobo at least implies a bit of the dirt I’m feeling coats my fingers and Catherine’s smelly little dog.
When church was done we followed the mob to the Mall Mart where we ate Muslim food again on Easter weekend. The bus to Nanchong was broken and so that crew had to go to Mianyang where William was sure there were hourly buses to Nanchong. There weren’t. Dan texted back saying they’d only be getting out of town at 6:35 so did we want to meet out there for dinner? Back in Jiangyou we were lollygagging the afternoon away watching videos made by Willy G and playing “Guess the ’90s rock band!” All the goodbyes had been said back at the bus stop after Todd lured us over to see what songs were being performed in the middle school English song competition. Only one “My Heart Will Go On.” There were hugs and waves and all that which wouldn’t quite get repeated when we met again at Grandma’s in Mianyang by the iron cow (Tie Niu). There we just let them walk away with a wave. I’ll be heading west and might see Todd soonish. These are hardly last goodbyes.
The secret Holly shared with us in William’s room after Catherine left to pack and nap was that she doesn’t like Jiaozi. A partial second passed when I thought she meant the food, but really, it’s Catherine’s dirty little dog. He’s very poorly behaved and his sitting on/next to Holly through the Saturday worship gave her the sense that she stunk of dog. Back in Canada I usually don’t think of little dogs being dirty. Dogs like my mom’s. So there’s not so much concern with the dog sitting on your lap or being on the couch or whatever. Jiaozi though is a filthy ambassador of the Chinese gutter who probably shouldn’t be touched by people with poor immune systems. William didn’t want him on his bed either and I lay no blame for that. But. There’s obviously a lot of love between Catherine and her mutt, so it’s not all bad. He was brought along so Holly would get a chance to meet him for the very first and last time, since he won’t be going back to New Zealand. With Johnny we joked that the dog should be named Mafan (trouble).
William songed us all the way down to the bus station which was nice. He’s considerate that way. On one morning, Sunday I suppose, when we were walking to the 3rd floor apartment he expressed regret our MPC terms didn’t overlap and I agreed. We would have had fun like we did with Phil. I miss the kind of structure that life had. Looking forward to SLP and PIC and Easter and Thanksgiving and heading places to see your friends because you had the money and could handle getting the time. It’s sad how much harder it is to create things to look forward to. I suppose that’s what event movies and music festivals are for. Though this year I’m not really looking forward to Folk Fest that much. Here we actually got together to sit around and talk about stuff. Like Sean and I often do on a Thursday night I suppose. But the idea of talking about life/god/meaning isn’t what we get down to in our Tuesday gaming sessions. Not that I’d really want it to. That’s what happens far from home, I guess?catherine mckinley dan tursack deb brande easter holly jiaozithedog julie bender mianyang michelle stabler-havener mpc phil sean the hangman todd hanson willy g winnipeg folk festival