I was once married to a Chinese man. He and his family were able to escape before the Revolution and they eventually made their way to the United States. Until they succeeded in doing that, he lost two young brothers who died because they had been eating rotten garbage, having tired of eating soup made from boiling rocks.
While in Hong Kong, waiting to come to the US, the entire family made export items and grew their sprouted soy beans in the kitchen for sustenance.
Once in the States, my partner landed a union job delivering newspapers. He supported everyone! He never finished more than grade school. His English was, in my opinion, abominable. But, his kind heart won everyone over. Actually, everyone wondered how such a wonderful man married such a 'bitch'.
In fact, he was quite good at manipulating people and I would be his silent observer, never letting on to his maneuverings. No one ever guessed what he was doing, and I never gave him away. It was fun, and funny.
He impressed me. He taught me so much. I still think of him often. After we separated, I believe he was one of the fallen in 9/11.
One of the lasting images of him was when he would go faithfully every year to the visiting Chinese opera. People were allowed to take photos, which he shared with me. I never went to the performances. He also told me lots of favorite and revered folk stories. Here was this man, an uneducated laborer, who had culture! He was not a drinker, or wife beater. He treated everyone well. Shared whatever he had. He was modest and kind.
When I think of laborers in the US, I never find anyone who even compares.
I've been having fun. I got these dorm style room dividers, inexpensive, and I've been moving them around the apartment creating new spaces.
Taking my readers once again to the time I lived in Japan. Because of their earthquake proneness, the Japanese developed housing that could easily be rebuilt in the event of an earthquake. Actually, in more modern times, buildings are built to sway with the tremors. In olden times though, paper walls and easily movable screens helped making adjustments easy. So, if you needed a bit of privacy, you didn't have to tear down a wall or build a wall to get it. If you needed to clear a bigger space for an event, you could move walls and make space.
This flexibility is impressive. How often I have been in closed-in spaces in apartments that squish everything together. With portable walls, spaces can be opened up or closed up as needed instead of being so very stable.
It's actually all a state of mind!
The highest complement paid to a woman when I was growing up was that you could eat off her floor. You could eat off my mother's floors. She was that neat and that organized that the house was always clean. Never a bug or cockroach! Never dishes left in the sink. So, I thought we were clean.
Then I lived in Japan. OMG. I found out that we weren't that clean really. The Japanese are probably the cleanest culture, and by comparison, I was truly a barbarian. First of all, there were shoes and slippers for every purpose. You never wore your outside shoes in the house. There was a place for them Scientists have recently published articles to encourage this kind of behavior because germs do get tracked into the house and all over the indoors. Then there were house slippers. Then there were special slippers for the water closet. Toilets and baths were in separate rooms and you never wore house slippers into the toilet room.
The bath! When we first tried to take a bath, my friend and I never thought we would be able to do it. The tub was filled to the top with boiling water. I mean boiling. So, we found our courage and toe by toe, went in. After a while, we became accustomed to it. Now, if I ever have a chance, I would love to have one again.
First, you wash yourself off before stepping into the tub. The water is kept for almost a week, covered to keep it clean, then heated for the bath. It is one of the most relaxing experiences. And warming, too. In the northern villages, people would go to the public baths, then go home in just a light robe. Unbelievable! They were not cold!
I remember baths when I was younger and still at my parent's home. I hated them. I could not fathom how you could wash off in the tub and then sit in your own dirt. I chose to take showers.
I still dream of my Japanese baths and long for the relaxation a truly clean and hot bath can give.
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