Monday, September 30, 2013

Following Someone Else's Dream: So long, China! Kia Ora, New Zealand!

Vol. II, No. 10

Writing this blog in Guilin, China.
Well, speaking of traveling into the past in China, it seems I've run out of time! My book is being published in just three weeks, and I'm going home to New York for the launch. I have a Goodreads giveaway coming up and I've been LIVE on the air on American radio. All this is to say that I need to rush us out of China, head to my new home in New Zealand for a brief spell, and then return to Manhattan. So here goes...

In Guilin, China, my daughter and I sat in a cafe and wrote and wrote and wrote. Well, to be clear, I wrote while she grabbed at the pen. The cafe we were in was Italian, and it was raining heavily outside."Lying Eyes" was playing on the jukebox and the whole place had the feeling of somewhere set firmly and permanently in the early 1990s. I was lonesome and homesick, but as anyone who's traveled knows, the cure for homesickness is never home.

Baby crawling the Great Wall of China
So on the three of us went, peripatetically but not aimlessly. Not aimlessly at all: we had the Great Wall to see.

At the Great Wall, I was overcome with a profound sense of emotion for the depth of the wall's story. I mean, if there's any project on this planet that's bigger, and was more unlikely to succeed due to its sheer scale, I'd like to know about it. As many as a million builders died during part of its construction, and that was during just one dynasty, for just one part of the wall!

Anyway, at the Great Wall, the baby wanted to get down, and she wasn't taking no for an answer. Incredibly, we'd managed to find an empty section of it, not necessarily off the beaten path, but simply devoid of people. It was cold and rainy that day, so we had history all to ourselves. Onto the Great Wall of China we put her down. On the Great Wall of China my little girl was crawling. On this majestic endlessly snaking spine of history, she was tasting loose pebbles. I couldn't have been more proud.
Forbidden City with my girl, Beijing. 

And on we went. Back to Beijing to see the Forbidden City. And to Grandma's House, a restaurant so popular that we waited two days and three hours just to sit down. There I misunderstood a translation for meal and drink, so that while we thought we'd ordered a dozen or so plates of tapas and two drinks, we'd actually ordered a dozen or so main courses and two bottles of wine. It was embarrassing; everyone in the restaurant, and yes I mean everyone, laughed at us. And no I don't mean 'with' us. Not on this occasion!

From Beijing, we caught a taxi made of aluminum that looks just like a refrigerator on wheels. From there, we headed back "home" to Shanghai. Once again, we explored culinarily and found ourselves at a locals-only restaurant that served up some of the best food we've ever, ever eaten. By this point, we'd begun to feel like locals ourselves. But by this time, it was time to go. To New Zealand.

Defying gravity, the "refrigerator" taxi
And just like that, we were in my husband's home, my new home. On one hand, I couldn't believe I wasn't going home to New York, not yet anyway. But on the other hand, I began to feel a strange sense of communion with New Zealand—Wellington in particular. It was hard to say why; it's winter here and it's been raining and raining and raining, and when it stops raining it begins to drizzle. But what I know so far is that there is something about this place. There's a vein of creativity that pulses through Wellington the way I feel it pulsing through my home of the East Village in Manhattan. There are farm-to-table restaurants on every city block, coffee houses serving up "flat whites" made from freshly in-house-roasted beans, and posters (I'm not kidding here) suggesting that you, too, ought to follow your dream. And when I say posters, I don't mean just at the university (there are those too), but even at the gas stations! The walls are crawling with dream-followers, like James who created Earth174, and Gareth the barista who is working his way of up in national radio, or Annette who's following her passion to make exquisite chocolate at Esque Fine Chocolate.

Kia Ora, New Zealand!
Oh I could go on, and in fact I will! As I continue this blog, I'm going to return to what we used to be talking about here—about other people following unusual dreams. Like you. Here and there, I'll pepper my accounts of you, and you, and you too, with my own tales of getting to know my new country. For now though, we are LIVE from New Zealand!

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of a Wall Street woman chucking in her career to become anchor of the Mongolian news—available now for pre-order on Amazon. She's also the host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how artists and celebrities have overcome huge obstacles to pursue extraordinary dreams. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook where she writes about dream-followers!

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