Friday, April 27, 2012

No Xi’an For Me

I started out with the best intentions. I bought my ticket to Xi’an as soon as I received my wedding invitation from Ken, my friend who lives there. He is finally getting married, much to his parents’ delight… or is it dismay? You’ll have to see the ‘When the Universe Speaks’ entry, posted March of last year to find out why I say that.

In any case, I did start out with the best of intentions. I bought a train ticket. I let Sam know I was going out of town. After teaching my two classes this morning I rushed home to pack, make sandwiches and get out the door on time. I didn’t get my dishes done but that’s OK. They’re rinsed and stacked neatly by the sink. I can do them when I get back. And I didn’t get to make my bed either. And my floor is a mess from the workmen who came and sanded down moldy spots on the walls. (Yes, mold already!)

I don’t know about you but I hate leaving the house in such disarray. But I did have good intentions. I was going to go to that wedding.  

I left the house a full two and a half hours before my train was to take off. Under normal circumstances that would have given me plenty of time to get to the train station. Even under abnormal circumstances that would have given me plenty of time. The circumstances were in fact just a bit abnormal: this is Labor Day weekend in China. Not a major holiday but a holiday nonetheless. Those who have time off are traveling. So, scoring a ticket was a major coup, as I said last post.

So here I am, with my good intentions and my train ticket. Zhanny was traveling home too, so we were going to ride to the train station together. She got to the bus stop same time I did. So far no problems, other than the bus being crowded to standing room only capacity. We arrived at Wuchang train station in plenty of time for Zhanny to make her connection. I had a bit further to go: to Wuhan station, in the north part of the city. That requires another bus connection and another hour’s ride.

Still no problem. Went to the back of Wuchang train station just as bus 540 was pulling up. I was the second person on the bus, guaranteeing me a seat. Except for that little migraine brewing, travel is getting good, folks! I popped some Tylenol, and then settled in and put away my misgivings about this trip.

What? Misgivings?

Yes. You see, I really didn’t want to go to Xi’an. Actually, that’s not true: I’m always up for a trip to Xi’an. I didn’t want to go to the wedding. Ken and I had a bit of a falling out last time I was in Xi’an and since then we’ve drifted apart. It has been over a year since we’ve communicated. He has not responded to any text or QQ messages I’ve sent him. Busy? Snubbing? Who knows? I gave up trying.

Only over the last 2 weeks, since he was sending out wedding invitations has he gotten back in touch with me. You can see why I’d be reluctant to go to the wedding of someone who treated me badly last time I went to visit, disregarded my attempts to establish contact for over a year and now invites me to his wedding.    

All of this is running through my mind as I enjoy my bus ride, sitting down on a packed bus. But I’m figuring The Fates are good: Zhanny and I meet at the bus station at exactly the same time. I make my bus connection with no problems, even getting a seat on the bus. Maybe I should shake off those misgivings and start looking forward to the trip. OK: let’s find a positive mindset.

I did not make my train.

Four things happened to detract me from my very best intentions. First was traffic. I anticipated that, and had budgeted time for it. Then there was an accident, snarling things up even more. That is OK. I budgeted for that, too. Then the bus broke down. Uh-oh, now we’ve got trouble.

Still, that would have been OK. After all, I had built plenty of time into my schedule for such unforeseen events. I probably still could have made my train after the replacement bus got there, if only the driver didn’t drive as though it were Christmas. Or Sunday. Or Christmas Sunday. This was without a doubt the slowest driver I’ve ever had the pleasure or frustration to ride with. He drove so slow that two other Bus 540 blew past him. The rest of the traffic did too.

Nervously I kept my eye on the clock. We are now edging to 15 minutes prior to my departure time and we are still nowhere near the train station. Things could go either way. Maybe the train will be late. Usually they aren’t that late though: up to 30 minutes is as late as I’ve ever seen them leave.

When I overheard a fellow passenger on his phone confirm the train was leaving on time I gave up. No point in traveling all the way to the train station just to get turned away. At least I could get a refund on my ticket. No, wait! Can’t do that either. I bought the ticket presenting my stateside driver’s license as ID. I only had my passport with me now. No refund possible.

Going back to that When the Universe Speaks philosophy for a moment.

This trip has been fraught with misgivings. First, I didn’t really see why Ken would invite me to his wedding after being incommunicado for over a year. Second, to be perfectly selfish: what’s in it for me? Even if Ken did want a reconciliation, how would that work? He’s busy with his wedding. He doesn’t have time to make things right with me. And, I’d most likely be the only foreigner. That would kind of leave me struggling for conversation and company, seeing as the only person I know that speaks decent English in Xi’an is the groom, and I believe he will be otherwise engaged. Third: I had left my house in disarray, petty as that sounds, but add to that all the things I had to postpone in order to go to this wedding. Like planning my classes for next week, not doing laundry, not chatting with my loved ones and not writing my blog.

And then too: I’ve not been feeling so well these past few weeks. For some reason, my stomach has not been cooperating, leaving me feeling listless and blah. Not exactly optimal travel condition.

And then there’s money. I am planning a major trip stateside in about 2 months. My last name not being Rockefeller, I kind of have to watch my pennies carefully to fund that trip. Finally: Gary and I had planned to tour Xi’an together later this summer. We thought about moving our travel plans up and tie our trip in with the wedding but, at the last minute Gary got caught called away on business.

It seems to me that The Universe is saying, loud and clear: ‘Don’t go to Xi’an right now!’

Who am I to not heed such a directive?

I got off the super slow bus and got on the one that would take me back home. I sent Ken a text message, apologizing for not being able to make it to his wedding. He suggested I try to get another ticket but without being able to refund this ticket, why would I spend more money to get to a wedding I really don’t want to go to anyway?

No, I think I’ll stay in Wuhan this holiday weekend, nurse my recalcitrant stomach back to health and do things that are far more important to me: connect with my family, write blog entries, clean my house and prepare for my classes next week. I’ll go to Xi’an later this summer with Gary as planned. If permitted, I’ll make it up to Ken for having missed his wedding. All things settled, the stress disappeared. Maybe I didn’t need that Tylenol. Maybe I just needed a new plan.

Now… about that ‘listless and blah’ a few paragraphs back. Doesn’t that sound like a great name for a doctor’s office?       

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