January 25. Getting off the train at Xichang (西昌) at 5am, I see a white girl. WTF? So I’m all, hey, where are you from? She says in Mandarin, Gélìxī. I think to myself, is that even a country? She must have read my mind, since the next thing she said was “it’s in Europe,” in Chinese. Oh, ok. I told her I was from San Francisco, also in Chinese, assuming it was her language of choice. She had a sort of blank look on her face, but it was 5am, so I let it go. In retrospect, I think I could have told her I was from the moon and she wouldn’t have batted an eye.
I continued the conversation in Mandarin. Do you come here often? I asked. “I LIVE in Xichang,” she replied, rather defensively. So then I left her alone, and thought nothing more of it, other than to wonder what foreigners living in Xichang might be doing.
March 9. I get to the bus station and have to go to the bathroom, so I go into the waiting hall. On the wall is a huge map of all the tourist destination in Liangshan. As I am taking in the map, lo and behold, who should come in but the girl from Gélìxī, wherever that is. She’s wearing a red bicycle helmet, and she takes out her digital camera and snaps a photo of the map. She runs over to the other end of the hall and takes some photos of the screen showing upcoming bus departure times. She looks very serious and very busy, so I’m afraid to interrupt her. Then she leaves and rides away on her bike.
Who is that girl???
March 24. I am riding a bus along Hangtian Avenue, Section 1, on the way to visit a friend at Xichang College (north campus). I look out the window, and lo and behold, who should be riding along on a bicycle next to the bus but that girl from Gélìxī! But since I was on a bus and she was on a bike, I couldn’t very well stop and have a conversation with her. I couldn’t very well ask her what she was doing in Xichang, or if when she said Gélìxī she really meant Greece, and isn’t that funny but the Chinese word for Greece is actually Xīlà. And I couldn’t very well tell her that I was impressed that she was biking everywhere, and by the way I’m a card-carrying member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I couldn’t do any of those things. So I just sat on the bus helplessly while we passed her going twice her speed.
White girl in Xichang, who are you? The three times I’ve been to Xichang this year, why has fate had us cross paths – every time – only to rip us cruelly apart?
White girl in Xichang, if you see this… I really want to know what you’re doing in Xichang! And no, I’m not some random mainland dude trying to 攀關係, and I have the passport to prove it! Fate, spurn me no longer!