Friday, July 1, 2011

A Close Call With Reality

There’s no way around it. As a foreigner living in China, I will always have attention drawn to me~simply because...well for one, you can see my white skin and blonde hair glowing from 100 yards away. Secondly, I am almost always taller than the average male here, not to mention that my blue eyes are like the blinking lights of the old K-Mart blue light specials. It’s twice as bad in the countryside. You might as well bring a blue smurf into the center of town because the locals’ jaws literally drop as you walk by. You can feel their stares continue to blaze into your back long after you’ve walked away. No matter how hard I want to live my life inconspicuously here, it will never happen. For the most part, I have grown accustomed to these things and they usually don’t bother me. Sometimes I even forget how different I am and I get careless. That was the case today. It’s been really hot here, so when I’m home alone in my own apartment I strip down to the least possible amount of clothing I can wear and still have time to throw on a presentable cover up just in case someone unexpectedly knocks at my door. This afternoon I was really hot and tired and wanted to try and get in a quick nap before heading off to my part time job at the pre-school. Unfortunately, I ran out of bottled water today, so I called the water delivery people to come and exchange my empty bottles for full ones. I knew it would take them a few minutes to up to a few hours to get here, so I grabbed the jugs out of my kitchen, stuck the coupons in the top of the bottle and prepared to put them outside my door for an easy, impersonal exchange. I opened the door and snuck out to the stairway half naked quickly attempting to put the bottles in their usual spot of exchange. I guess I must’ve been in too big of a hurry because I dropped one of the jugs and it went thumping down the stairs to the landing of the apartment below me. After being in and out of China for the last 8 years I should’ve know better, but I just wanted to get that doggone jug, put it on the steps and get my nap started. I scampered down the stairs, scooped up the jug and just as I was turning around a big gust of wind blew through the open window in the stairwell. I was horrified as I watched the door to my apartment slowly start to swing closed. I’m sure you’ve seen similar scenes in the movies, where a disaster unfolds right before the eyes of the only person who can stop it and they are just inches away from prevent the inevitable. The panic was intense! In my mind I was doing the slow motion scream, “NOOOOOO!” realizing that if that door did indeed close, I would be locked out of my apartment with nothing on but a T-shirt and skivvies! A foreigner in China dressed (or not dressed) like this would certainly cause an uproar...not to mention a probable spot on the nightly news highlighting the promiscuity of foreigners in China! In my desperation to save myself from such a fate I made a dive for the door, willing to sacrifice my fingers and my body to the cement stairs, rather losing all my dignity and taking the walk of shame to my neighbor’s apartment to ask for help. Thankfully, I was able to grab the door just before it slammed shut. Now as I sit here recalling the event and writing it all down, I really do have to laugh. Seriously! Can you imagine the stories in my neighborhood about the crazy, foreign lady with the pink bikini underwear? Good Lord, that would’ve been embarrassing! Thank you God for your grace...especially, when it’s hot, I’m tired, and a little impulsive!