In New York City we took naps between five to seven in the afternoon, nine to eleven at night, catching dinners afterwards as if a new day. In consequence, we inevitably woke up in the middle of night to find ourselves answering work emails or playing retro SNES video games. When I asked why he was up too at three in the morning, he said "have to go find bub, what if bub runs away?" in a voice that resembled what one might imagine Babadook sounds like. And so, Babadook and Tonton comprised of New York vol. III, when no effort was made at overcoming jetlag, and simply letting the delirious days made of re-tracing a city that you knew by heart through subway stops, consume it all. On Christmas Day we went through my old neighborhood in Sunset Park. We ate Bahn Mi at Ba Xuyen (best in all of NYC), got spring rolls, an avocado milk shake, and a vietnamese coffee like it was 2010 all over again. New York stays the same even as you grow old.
Somehow I hungered for Chinese food through all of this. I missed the sautéed vegetables and the comfort of rice soaked in sauce through all the fusion-y spectacles. I hungered for it until I ended up in Chinatown in front of a preserved egg and pork porridge, ordering in Chinese because there was no other way. I hungered for it like it was something I will be losing soon.
Because here's the thing with being in China, it's a terrible way to live, and we all know it, and it breaks your heart because you utterly love it with all your heart. I think of my father who lived through these years of chaos and conflict, and wonder if I'd failed him somehow for choosing to be in this iron-clad, nonsensical world that fundamentally rejects goodness, openness, and progress beyond economic facelifts. America may not be perfect with its unabashed capitalistic outlook, its terrible reality shows and endless commercials, but it is a collective conscience that learns from its ill-doings and combats its failings, even as it struggles at the darkest hours. It is a cacophonous world held together by idealism. It is not this machine, governed imperviously, slowly closing its tentacles on itself.
Farewell Gmail. May this day be remembered as the day that China chose to remain in 2004, which is what my QQ email account's interface looks like, but at least it doesn't carry a numbered address like 126, 163, or another lazy man's spit into the universe, unheard. We mourn for you motherland. We mourn.