Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Orient bound

I am thinking of going -- no, more than thinking of going, planning to go -- to China, maybe next year, maybe the year after. I feel guilty and irresponsible even thinking of planning to go. But if I do not go, and go soon, I will implode.

I need to wake up and not know where I will be sleeping, not even in which town. I need it in a way that hurts. The kids would understand, wouldn't they, if I had to go away for six weeks?

I remember how I felt about my dad's sailing off in his ships. He would go for months at a time. I think, though, that I resented his wanting that more than wanting to be with me. I want more than anything to be with my children but I cannot take them with me.

Dalian is one of my magic places. Ouagadougou, Mysore, Dalian. I don't think there were any others. I won't feel fulfilled if I go there, but I certainly will feel unfulfilled until I do.

My mother says she could not go to China because they kill babies and eat dogs. It's the strangeness of eating dogs that makes me want to go, I tell her.

In Bolgatanga, spiced dog was on sale. Mrs Zen would not eat any. I said, it's just like eating cow or pig. She said no. The look on her face was enough explanation.

Sometimes I regret becoming a vegetarian. It means I cannot share some things. I no longer feel the way I did when I gave up meat but I couldn't start eating it again. I'm more likely to give up more things. Milk doesn't taste right here in Australia. I think it tastes too good and that's too much for me. I drink it skimmed, but the day is coming when I give it up. I don't even enjoy cheese much any more.

I am realising as I write this that what it is is that I don't enjoy food much these days, and I haven't for a while. I have days when I feel that my life is fading away, that whatever I felt it was for, whatever I felt I could get out of it, I no longer could even touch.

I must buy the Lonely Planet for China. I have an old NE Asia one (the plan is quite old now) but it's too skimpy to really get excited over. I will turn the pages and the names will be invigorating. I will dream of one day standing in Changsha, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Nanjing and, yes, Dalian and making those names real. I never picture the places, I pay scant attention to the descriptions (except that like many youngsters, I had my imagination fired by the adventures of Marco Polo) or the lists of what you should see, but the names, the beautiful names... what they could be hiding, what they could represent.

I curse that I will die before I can make every name real.


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