written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Build up to my Burmese Crush.

When patches of your skin are the color of port wine, but under the clothes you're pearly white, and sand grit sticks to your forehead and abrades the uneven burn under your bangs when you go to brush the stuck together strands of hair out of your nearing blood shot eyes, then that’s a day like mine, a day like the past few days. Like the past few days I woke up around 10am and made it out the door around noon wearing shorts, sandals, sunglasses and with my one light pannier. I rolled down the same narrow cobblestone road between grey walls casting one half of the street in the same color and the other in a squint-inducing brightness. Locals wearing the characteristic long layers and sun hats, carrying spades, baskets, pushing carts, kids running up the hill in the school tracksuits, they all instinctively bunched in the shadows, and I dodged and dodged until finally acknowledging my place on the sunnyside. I had a map and was going to attempt to find a road that encircled the blue lake Er Hai. Actually, I was just out to bike sloth-like on the flat road in the sun. Today I felt good, but inordinately slothy and nothing not even three ice cream (oatmeal-flavored) popsicles (spaced out over 2 hours, mind you) was lifting me out of it. I cranked my pedals like hoisting a full-pale from a deep well and losing interest. Then I made it to a bridge, where I suspected the road towards the road turned into the road I wanted, and the road it was, was it.

But the nice manicured river side soon up churned into mounds of gravel, as the road was actually being built. So there was no road to ride, but I saw an accessible “beach” of pebbles and I groggily walked my bike to its edge. There was bonfire fueled by a pile of canvas sacks filled with twigs and often it popped frighteningly and I scampered quickly down wind, as both the blaring sun and its jet-engine wavy fumes continued to burn my skin. I sat back to the more industrial face of the lake’s harbor, looking blankly at its vast blue waters and sun-scorched rounded mountains beyond its far banks. A few different men as groggily as I sauntered behind me on the mound of gravel, but unlike me they wore dusty over-sized suits, dress pants rolled up at the calf and wearing orange plastic bath sandals—it’s a typical style amongst working-class Chinese men. I looked out and fell asleep with my eyes open, sitting upright on a uncomfortable rock. I saw a few empty tour boats idling just ion the middle of the harbor and considered spending 100 kuai to hitch a lake ride the measly 6 miles up to the town of Dali, where I am currently staying. I didn’t.

The wind howled and turned my head to find a young man my age sitting on a rock farely closs to me. He was watching/washing is feet in the shallow and algae-ish bank. I found it comforting, actually to have him a little near, on this long blank beach and that he was not looking at me, like a foreign lady thing to watch while he soaked his feet. We just mutually lazed like lizards or blinking alligators not acknowledging the presence of the other.

I biked back with the gale-force winds at my back and falsely believed that, because of my speed, picked up some energy points somewhere on the beach. Actaully, I was spurred by the thought of getting back to Dali and visiting this little Burmese/Indian/Thai restaurant that I passed the other night. So, I got back and dropped in. There where some fun-loving groovy types outside playing Thai volleyball with their heads. I entered the unassuming doorway to the restaurant and entered a parlor that had cozy, worn, faded colorful, scruffy/exotique decor. Lou Reed played on the stereo system, pervaded all the somewhere’s of the bungalow-like interior. I yelled hello and that’s when HE sidled around the corner. Smiling brightly before he even rounded the corner fully to greet me. I instantly felt a flutter, and I’m not really a fluttery type as of late. He had a poofy helmet of black hair, dark brown skin (like Indian, but not quite), and a round face. He wore faded jeans, a t-shirt, and dullish skate-border shoes, but he seemed to wear them unconscious of their styule-significance. He had a pleasing round head and face, in fact every feature of his face was as round as the script of his native language, which after I asked, I found out was Burmese. I asked if I could order “take-away” and he looked a little perplexed then I said it in Chinese, “da bao” and he said “of course” and quickly exited the room. After thinking that was odd, I sat down on the couch and looked at the menu. Then he rounded the corner smiling and holding a huge Chinese beer “qing dao”. I informed him of the mistake and he apologized for his bad Chinese and English. And becoming ever more smitten with his constant smile I just waved the international gesture for “no biggie.” I ordered some sloppy Indian curry and naan, to-go and cup of Burmese milk tea for “right now” I gesticulated (while smiling). He smile-ly exited again and there-in returned with a smile still and told me to “okay, wait” , which I was already in the process of doing. Then he left and I got up to check my self in the mirror and sink which was in the hallway. I looked pretty okay, but there was a bleariness about me, sun- over exposed, hair limp from sweat and wind. Oh well, whatever and sat back down at my table. I looked across my shoulder the garden kitchen where his friend cleaned some ingredients. Then he came around the corner again and for some reason I stood up at my table. So both standing we had a little cute (smilely) bad-English conversation about our relative whereabouts. I told him that I really wanted to go to Myanmar (Burma, if you like) and he suggested that I “go in this instant,” which I re-interpreted to mean to go while I travel in this instance of traveling, rather than bolting from the restaurant and making my way to the country right then and there. We have a “Land of Gold” he said, and I knew he meant that Myanmar means “Land of Gold”. I learned this from the book about Myanmar that I am currently reading/loving. He left and I sat down and noticed that he had sly placed the Burmese tea on the table. I watched the hacky-sack game through the window. They used a large wicker ball, slightly smaller than a volley-ball, and bounced it off their heads and elbows and chests. A old Chinese man, dressed in the standard dark blue work issued pant suit with a “Mao” collar, and I delighted to watch his toothless happy expression as he watched the youths of this alien era blithely play in the street. HE came around and I stood up again, for no reason, again and while smiling (almost manically) we exchanged a few more interpretive meanings and I felt like there where wires in my mouth. And I wondered if he was smiling because he knew that I thought he was adorable and cute, and probably not. Then I diverted his attention to behind his shoulder at a shelf featuring a package of cheroots, a type of banana leaf cigar, enjoyed by the Burmese (again info trinket from my book). He said that they were good and gave me two which I have yet to smoke. Then he left while smiling at me and emerged grinning, clasping my take-out. And I paid him and he hesitated when saying the amount, as he didn’t quite feel confidant in his number ability in either chinese of English. And I said what is it in Burmese, and made some syllables whose enunciation I couldn’t exactly match, and he laughed a little and I laughed and I left and he said after I turned my back “for you to come back” and held out 2 business cards. And I took them and I left with my food and smiling home thinking that it was nice feeling to have a crush. And I got home, took a shower washing the sand and cooling sun-blister heat of my arms. I came out to my food to find that the sloppy curry and yogurt raita had but entirely soaked through the paper take-away box. And I thought wow this looks so good. And it was excellently a mess.

My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson