Postcard to Rebecca
I really wanted to give you a postcard a while back, but I’m finally doing this for your birthday. Last summer in China, I spent half of my time in a small village called Sanyuan, where my mother grew up. I stayed in this courtyard home with a tiny kitchen that had two ginormous pots over this manual stove that you would start with wood pieces and a match. The men never entered the kitchen here, so whenever he was hungry, my grandfather would sit at this short table out in the courtyard and wait. And if we ever had fish soup, which was expensive here and rare, I would pick the fish off their bones into a separate bowl for my grandfather, hoping that perhaps the fish oil would make him remember again.
I’m almost sure that you would have loved this place, Rebecca. During the harvest season, you see all the barley seeds out on the streets. The sunflowers are bigger than my face and you can eat right out of them. On some nights, you can smell the rusty fire as the neighbors burn their leftover barley stalks. And by 9 pm, pretty much everyone is getting ready for bed. But if you sneak out at this time, you get to enjoy the complete darkness, lit only by the cosmos, accompanied by the sound of farm animals from a distance and a faint scent of burnt crop. It’s not much, but it really is amazing.
I’m telling you this because I think he would have liked you, Rebecca, my grandfather that is. And I appreciate that you are someone I can tell this to.