Was it all a dream?

Happy New Year! And with the celebrations underway I felt the urge to write a quick update!

I was in China this time last year. I spent an entire year there and now I’m back. Obviously lots of people ask me ‘How was China?’ in curious, surprised or even incredulous tones, and… and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t really know what to say!

“It was … amazing.” I say, with feeling. Fair enough , anyone can understand that. But they say ‘Really? You don’t seem to think so!’

“Amazing!” The first syllable sounds loud and clear, enthusiastic and brimming over with pride. The second sounds sentimental, wistful, but maybe a little sad. And the third syllable is almost lost as my speech descends into a satirical…. snigger. That’s what throws them, the snigger. I feel only I can understand that snigger. It’s the snigger of disbelief. The questioning ‘Was I really there?’ ; the doubtful “Does it exist?” and the nagging “Was it all a dream?”

How can I explain this? It’s because I find that China is so…removed from England, so fundamentally different to what I know, that I cannot begin to describe it. It is another world. And when someone asks me ‘How was China?’ I’m thrown. I’m asking myself the same thing. How IS China? What is China? Why is China?

Unfortunately this all means that I don’t have much to say about China, and my memories of it don’t really come to me in everyday life unless I’m considering it really hard, because I can’t map them onto each other. My life in China cannot overlay my life in England. I was a different person there. A person that the ones in England just don’t know. The ones in China, the ones from China, they have met Crimson China, Grace from China. But they don’t really know what English Grace is like. They say that when you speak in a different language you are a different person. This is certainly true for me.

I hope I can meet Crimson China again some day.

 

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