© 2009 Lynsey

105 – Petals in the afternoon

You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them — no matter how old or impressive they may be — as if they are children. For most of us never really grow up or mature all that much — we simply grow taller. O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales. — Leo Rosten

I met her in Guangzhou. She was helping out in the hotel at the Pearl River Film Studios. We didn’t exactly fall in love, but I thought she was cute (she was) and she thought I was funny and foreign (I was). When we met she wore a top with a furry animal – maybe a monkey or a bear – on it. And she smiled in a way that was both shy and confident and held up two hands making peace signs. A poster girl for Hello Kitty and all those other cutesy creations from the East. We’d have these long conversations – deeply meaningful – she speaking in Cantonese, me in English. Each of us nodded and smiled, and each afternoon conversations and relationships were built over chrysanthemum tea and McVities Tea Biscuits.

It was a turbulent time for China – the old ways were being replaced by new, more Western ways. Some aspects were good, others not so sustainable. Beautiful small things became overrun by ugly big things. From time to time, when the afternoon sun turns things dusty golden, I still wonder where she is now – what became of her. Does she still work in the hotel, has she been swallowed up into some shoe sweatshop, has she managed against the odds to turn some success – a splinter of luck – into a comfortable place in the new world?

I last saw her as I was about to load my case and bag into the taxi for the wharf. The case was too heavy for her, and we both laughed at her struggles. There are some things a four year old can’t do. As I bent and lifted the case into the taxi, I heard a scamper up the stairs, an echoing giggle, and she was gone. Another petal in my fading memory.

10. Every day connect with somebody.
14. Every day the ordinary can be the extraordinary.
25. Every day your light shines for others to see.

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