Thursday, May 7, 2015

How I Spent My May Day Holiday

There's been so little going on in my life lately, I'm elated to finally take to the keyboard again! I have something to write about!!! YAY!!!!

On Thursday, Summer sent me a message. Vanessa, whom you might remember from the entry Another Side of Hangzhou I Did Not Know (posted November 2014) was breezing through town on her way to her village to attend a wedding. Might we get together? As I was answering Summer, Vanessa herself chimed in with the same information. How could I resist Summer and Vanessa, former classmates and students of mine, and both of whom were my constant companions through my head-bashing event a couple of years back? 

Via text message I agreed that spending a day with those two would be the height of joy for me, and we made plans to dine out at a restaurant nearby. That plan changed the next morning because of a downpour of rain. Crutches and broken legs don't do so well in the rain and it is impossible to hold an umbrella with both hands engaged, so I texted Summer that we would eat at my house instead. Now the only question was: what to prepare?

And the other question: why is it, whenever Vanessa is in the picture, there is rain? When I bashed my head in, while in Hangzhou and again today. That's one of those questions that make me wonder...

Shortly after arranging things with the girls, Julia, a colleague currently on detail to a translation firm texted. Might she and her family come over this evening? We would only need about two hours for visiting, and I shouldn't prepare too much food because they too would bring something. Suddenly I found myself with 2 meals to prepare!

You might think that would be easy: simply prepare enough for 2 meals at one time, and reheat the second meal for the later guests. I was able to do that with some of the dishes I prepared but not all of them. On the menu were: quesadillas, a Mexican inspired food; pizza, deviled eggs – American fare; mashed potatoes, veggies with sausage, tomato/egg dish, grilled chicken wings, and, of course rice, fruit and a soup. A variety of beverages, from tea and coffee to colas and milk were also available. Knowing that a good hostess in China serves more food than her guests could eat, I was determined to show face and feed my friends well.  

Summer, Vanessa and I enjoyed a long, lovely visit. Summer is a bit lovelorn, having just broken up with her boyfriend. Vanessa, the epitome of progressive young womanhood, is busy doing her thing, taking no time for love for fancy. Our conversation ran from reminisces to philosophy, interspersed with a great deal of laughter. They left at 5PM.

That gave me 2 hours to prepare things for Julia and Company. I prepared more chicken wings, reheated the half pizza I had saved for them, made more quesadillas, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, veggies and tomato/eggs. Right on time in the pouring rain they came, with a plate of potatoes. For  this evening meal I added home made peanut butter cookies to the menu. The girls had each gotten a gift of cookies, so I didn't include them on their menu.

Their son Eddie, 3 years old, was afraid of me on crutches and did not want to come in. I sat down so that he wouldn't be so scared. Finally, with coaxing from his parents he dared enter, and found I would not beat him, eat him or otherwise mistreat him. Soon he was playing, as he always does when visiting here. Because the hour was relatively late for a Chinese meal, we tucked right in to dinner, with Julia chastising me for having prepared too much food. I took that as a compliment. It was a good thing there was so much to eat because my guests were hungry!!! Little Eddie loved the quesadillas. So did his dad. There were few leftovers. I shared them with my guests; they took home a plateful.

Through the eating and chatting, and wine drinking - for these older guests I offered wine, I gained an opportunity for some part time work as a French translator at Julia's firm, and an offer for Chris to drive me to the wedding I was to attend the next day. I accepted both gratefully. In turn, I promised to teach them how to make cookies. Again: a lot of laughter, goodwill and toasting with our wine. Then, they too took their leave.

It was 9PM. I'd been cooking since 10AM, and up since 7AM. I was exhausted! I rinsed the dishes Chris and Julia had carried to the kitchen for me (a bit hard to do that on crutches!), but was too tired to do the whole cleanup. After all: it was every single pot, pan, glass, dish and chopstick that I'd used to put these two meals together. No way would I stay up for an hour, cleaning!

I'd been looking forward to Stephanie's wedding since she invited me, a month ago. Not because I was elated at her nuptials. I find it hard to describe in civil terms the disdain I feel for her choice of mate. I missed my little Vixen, as I had nicknamed her. Since she'd fallen in with that... so and so, we'd not visited or played at all. This would be my first chance in nearly 2 years to see her again.

On Saturday, after Chris ensured I was at the right place he left, vowing to pick me up after the shindig was over. How kind! I thought I'd taxi back home. Now in the custody of another former student, a classmate of the bride, we made our way to the hotel, chattering away. When I lay eyes on Vixen, that beautiful bride, I started crying. So did she. Disregarding custom, she rushed across the lobby  from the receiving line and threw her arms around me. We talked about how much we had missed one another and how glad we were to see each other again, and then she had to go receive other guests.

It was the saddest wedding I'd ever been to. Her father was so opposed to the marriage that he didn't attend. Her mother was there, but refused the groom's request for her daughter's hand, sobbing all the while. The bride, also in tears, could not bring herself to utter the emcee-prompted phrase: “Father, please drink tea! Mother, please drink tea!”, the custom of offering a drink to the new in-laws. She went so far as to push the proffered microphone away.

After the formal ceremony was finished, I had occasion to talk with both mother and daugher. They were sad, regretful... but what could be done? The girl is 4 months gone with child. There must be a wedding, or they must bear the shame of illegitimacy. Come time to leave, Vixen walked me out. She assured me she would not lose touch with me again and offered me honorary grandmother status. I was touched.

That sad event left me wrung. Still worn out from the day before and now emotionally battered as well, I took to the computer to share my feelings with my best friend stateside. By the time I was done it was nearing 8PM. The kitchen is still dirty and I've not eaten a bite. To that end, thank goodness for leftovers. I went to bed early again enduring nightmare fraught sleep, no doubt caused by the wedding and possibly by my filthy kitchen, and waking up at the ungodly hour of 5:45AM.

My weekend doings take longer to tell of than I had originally thought! Obviously, this will be a two-parter. See you next time!

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