We meet at Pluto’s for lunch, the same salad chain we used to hit up in college twelve years ago. Only this time, instead of in a sleepy cow-town, it is in posh Palo Alto. He is the reason I became vegetarian at 18. He introduced me to carob, pesto, Apple, long drives on the California coast. Now at 30, he looks the same: lean animated face, even row of white teeth, crinkly eyes that smile gently. He glows – with California heath, with success, with clean hard work. He is handsome — this time my judgment is free of the blush of first love.
I don’t remember how we pass the three hours. I remember the feelings: warmth, easiness, intensity, confusion. He asks me question after question, greedy to know more. I have not felt such focus on my words, the unfettered support and interest, in a long time. Why does he want to know so much about me? How do I get in a word about him?
I want to stay and I want to leave. What did I order? Did I even finish my salad? Normally I devour them. Where did we sit? Was the restaurant busy, loud? Who paid for the meal?
I remember the sound of blood and air pounding in my head. I remember my face growing hot. I remember smiling too much, becoming too animated.
Any foreign expat who has lived in Beijing for some time knows that nothing is really for certain. Just when you think you’ll get a 90-day, multiple-entry tourist visa into China like you might have gotten three months ago, you might get a sticker on your passport that reads 30-days, single-entry instead. When the air quality index lingers at emergency levels above 300 (just long enough for you to seriously contemplate leaving Beijing), it might suddenly dip to below 50 again – equivalent to the fresh, crisp air of Canada or Hawaii. And just when you finally commit to buying a new mattress for your overgrown Western body, you’ll find out you have to move again because your landlord has just sold his apartment to someone else.
Photo credit: 青简
This is a story of me. This is also a story of Beijing.
“Open your legs, slut.”
She was kneeling in front of him, eyes lowered, hands behind her back. Immediately she moved her legs further apart, feeling the cold air cutting into her crotch.
“Do you know what this is for?”
She looked up and saw a coil of rope dangling from his hand. It smelled like freshly-cut wood and rosin.
“Yes, Xiansheng. It’s for tying me up.” Her voice trailed off as she spoke. Then she heard the thud of something dropping on the floor behind her.
“Go get it.”
She didn’t get up. She instinctually knew she wasn’t supposed to. Instead she turned around; on all fours, she crawled toward the rope, her hips swinging lightly in her tight floral dress. She picked up the rope with her mouth, and then she returned to him as fast as she can, PROUD.
“I told you to open your legs, slut.”
He slapped her. She felt his hand land on her cheek, so effortlessly and yet with so much authority. It sent a thrill down from her face through her stomach and then to the little pink knot throbbing in between her legs.
She couldn’t help it any longer. She moaned.
That was me.
How did I become her?
It’s early afternoon, and I’ve found the perfect perch in my local park. This spot allows me to people watch, but is shaded enough to shield me from public view. It’s seclusion in plain sight, an act I have perfected through the years as a China-loving but attention-loathing expat in Beijing.
A few minutes into my badminton and baby gazing, a wrinkly yet nimble man in a white hat, white cotton undershirt and belted khaki shorts enters my periphery and begins an exercise ritual. He pounds his arms and legs with loose fists in well-practiced but imprecise thumps and looks out on the same view I’ve been enjoying.
Stupid nice. That was how a friend described this past Saturday in San Francisco. With the skies a heartbreak blue and the sun, light and austere, I didn’t want to be stuck indoors. But I had already booked a tour of the historic San Francisco Armory in the Mission, a four-story building built in 1912 that is now known as a porn studio run by Kink.com.
Since 1976, when the US National Guard left the building, it has sat empty. In 2006 Kink.com bought it for $14.5 million to house the production of their popular fetish sex videos.
In the style of a con artist declaring his weakness being that he is too honest, you said you would always care about me, that we would support each other in all our endeavors, that you would remain my biggest fan and be the first one to see my first solo show anywhere in the world, and that when you finally got that mobile froyo café-bus running, it would still be named after me. You agreed we could perhaps re-examine dating each other in a year or two and maybe stay married.
Of course I was too naive to see the irony in your declarations at the time, even though they followed “I don’t love you anymore, let’s part ways”.
It is with some hesitation that I joined a high school friend’s bachelorette party this weekend. I associate bachelorette parties with things like girls in high heels chugging margaritas in a loud bar and penis-shaped cakes.
My sister needed one drop for her aerial silks routine in the talent show.
This diaper drop is the only one possible given the limited ceiling height (I don’t agree, but she’s not comfortable with my other suggestions).
This drop involves clumsy wraps to get into and out of.
So, time to play after the students go home.
Why is every woman and girl figure skater sporting mini skirts, plunging necklines and bare backs? Does skin help you stick to their air (like how skin helps you grip the pole) so that you can stay up there just long enough for that extra half rotation in your triple axel? Why did America so quickly assume Tonya Harding was guilty of assault on Nancy Kerrigan? Why did Johnny Weir not perform in Stars on Ice after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? Why did Yuna Kim beat Mao Asada?