Thursday, June 4

7305 days

from redbubble (what! I was 10!)

that's 20 years, including leap days. it's said you'll always remember where you are when news of monumental events reaches you. when hell broke loose in tienanmen square, I was in hawaii, having narrowly escaped a typhoon in hong kong. we were moving home the summer of my eleventh birthday, and this was our last eastern hemisphere vacation along the way. we shopped for silk, ate jellyfish tentacles at the floating restaurant and visited the jade market and bird alley (gone now, after bird flu required its closure). we took a day trip to macao, and even ventured into the perimeter of mainland china. we bought star fruit at a stand, cutting them open with a pocket knife to eat on the spot. the citrus tartness was shocking, from fruit appearing it should taste of jolly ranchers. our terrible hotel had the kind of roaches you try not to disturb upon encountering in the bathroom, because they're sure not uncomfortable in your presence. my brother got his ear pierced—in the subway, no less—because mom appreciated the value of a wickedcool vacation story. he may or may not have also had a rat tail at the time. hey, it was the reagan era.

something that is not as commonly said by the wise, but probably should be: if you're anywhere in the world with lee g, find out what plane she's on and get on it. stat. on multiple occasions, for various reasons, my mother's flight has been the last* one out before the bomb drops. on this trip, we met up with a friend of hers, staying at the y. bonnie's visit staggered ours by a day or two after. we met her for phenomenal german food the night before our departure. by this time the student protests had already begun (300,000 at one event). we had encountered marches a few times along the way, and—having recently seen empire of the sun—the idea of being separated from family by the throngs was frightening (thanks again, chris bale). we were on the last flight out of hong kong, our plane taking off at a painfully exaggerated angle to avoid the incoming typhoon. the island of hong kong hunkered down for a few days while the situation in china rapidly declined. by the time protesters reemerged, they were rioters. martial law was declared. bonnie was unable to leave for almost a week. we don't know if johhny, the jeweler we frequented, was able to relocate his family to the states before the island reverted to chinese control in 1999, but thinking of them on the 20th anniversary of tienanmen square, I certainly hope so.

* very literally. in london, 2005, her train to heathrow was one of the the last into the station before everything closed down. they were not told of the bombings until their flight's arrival in the u.s.


double tonic said...

what a post. i know you spent time in Asia as a kid, but i had no idea you'd been so close to all of this.

your recollection of events at such a young age is impressive. i imagine the memory clings to things that have such an impact, though.

(the ear piercing story is very wickedcool.)

Roshan said...

Wow! How long have I known you and never heard this one. Of course, I would love to meet Lee even if there weren't a major disaster in the making.