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Longing for the Purple Trees of China

When I was a kid, I figured trees in China had to be blue. Or yellow. Or purple. Or maybe they were upside down, roots in the sky, branches underground. Or maybe they didn’t have branches and leaves at all but feathery fronds and oval discs of translucent celluloid that made music when the winds blew through them. The Chinese sky wasn’t sky blue but a greenier aquamarine or maybe a kind of opalescent mauve. And the sun was square and cherry-colored…

China was a place about as far away as I could possibly imagine, so things had to be really, really different there, right?

Places that were closer to home wouldn’t be quite as different, I figured. England, for example, probably had blue skies and a yellow sun just like here, but there would still be curious deviations in the plants and animals that you wouldn’t see here. That’s why unicorns and griffins had thrived in England! That’s why there was so much history there and so relatively little history here.

And that’s why I wanted to travel: to see how different things were other places.

I was very disappointed when I actually began to travel in my late teens—I spent all my modeling $$$$ on travel and college tuition—and discovered, No, stuff is pretty much the same the world over.

People did speak different languages. There were different brands on the store shelves.

But those were artifacts. Artifacts don’t count.

Acid trips were far more satisfactory than physical travel in that regard.

###

A handful of times, I found myself in situations that felt, if they did not look, palpably different. Once in Cairo, on an elevated walkway high above al-Tahrir Square—the locals all wore pajamas and walked counterclockwise, and Ann Duerr and I, the only females in sight, wanted to walk clockwise—I remember feeling as though I was a foreign protein and that the entire Egyptian culture was an antibody reaction specifically targeting me.

Another time, I flew from San Francisco to New York, and when I got out of the airport, summer slapped me across the face. Humidity! And a kind of jungle lushness even in the ailanthus trees struggling to grow out of broken concrete. You don’t have humidity in California.

Those moments were rare though.

Mostly, what I’ve found is that every place is really the same unless you work really, really hard to force your imagination into overdrive.

###

Anyway, I am very, very grumpy because I can’t exercise.

My knee feels better: It doesn’t actually hurt now; it just feels stiff.

But I know if I try to run or even hike, it’s gonna start hurting.

Everything feels the same. This game sanctuary that I was lucky enough to be stashed in when the Universe rescued me is still and boring, and my imagination has gone out on strike, which means I’m having problems writing The Story.

I tell myself, Ignore that. Writing is no more mystical than sitting down in a chair and typing words into an MSWord file.

But, of course, I don’t believe that for a second. No! Shakespeare has to be dictating from the other side of the ether. Otherwise, fuggetaboutit.

Yesterday, I toiled for the Scut Factory, traded texts with B and Bachelor # 3 from the Stoopid Internet Dating Site, finished Reading Like a Writer, cooked three pounds of collard greens, sussed out the Bluetooth issue I was having with my electronics, and painted my fingernails a shiny metallic orange—can’t really justify paying for manicures while I’m doing so much gardening since gardening ruins manicures.

What more should I be doing?

Something.

Something…

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
bandicoot
Jul. 21st, 2018 08:43 pm (UTC)
I remember being in MN for a week for Christmas and then flying back to CA. When I got out of the airport and on the road, the GREEN clubbed me over the head. MN was monochrome in the winter. CA was GREEN :)
mallorys_camera
Jul. 22nd, 2018 01:15 am (UTC)
Yes!!

That's the feeling exactly. :-)
gansje
Jul. 21st, 2018 09:56 pm (UTC)
You should be coming to visit us. :)
mallorys_camera
Jul. 22nd, 2018 01:16 am (UTC)
I would love to spend Shabbat with you and your family.

I'm kind of a crypto-Jew, you know. But becoming less and less crypto. :-)
gansje
Jul. 22nd, 2018 06:52 pm (UTC)
Then you should come! Let's talk about a weekend you could possibly come visit. We're right outside of Philadelphia, so we really aren't all that far from each other.
mexpatriot
Jul. 22nd, 2018 12:59 am (UTC)
We've been going to Xochimilco, a little south of here, to buy plants. Such an interesting and beautiful place. They have SO much stuff! Really cheap! SO much really exotic stuff. Your Chinese thoughts made me think of this.

We bought some trees called sangre libanesa (Lebanese Blood). I have no idea why they're called that. In English, it's, like, Smoke Tree, which is kinda meaningless too (euphorbia cotinifolia) .


The leaves have so many shades that one picture doesn't give the whole picture.

This is an hoja de chocolate (chocolate leaf plant); the leaves are black!


This, too! But I forget the name. (I'll probably have to do another garden post, as things have changed so much.):


There are gardenias, dalia enana (midget), hibiscus, et al.

And this little critter, the Axolotl, is native to Xochimilco only. It's popular in Japan, for some reason. My wife brought back stickers and T-Shirts with cartoon versions of these things. They have some in an aquarium in Paris, and Julio Cortazar wrote a short story about that.



mallorys_camera
Jul. 22nd, 2018 01:18 am (UTC)
Oh! I love that Axolotl! I can see why he's popular in Japan! He's like a living anime character.
mexpatriot
Jul. 23rd, 2018 03:09 am (UTC)
The Axolotl is being researched a lot, as he has the ability to regenerate lost body parts.

He was both sacred and food to the Aztecs. He look a lot like Quetzalcoatl.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatl

millysdaughter
Jul. 24th, 2018 08:23 pm (UTC)
People are the same everywhere, but the food is different.
Food is not "just an artifact" -- food is love.
mallorys_camera
Jul. 24th, 2018 08:37 pm (UTC)
Sometimes, food is love. But sometimes, food is fuel. :-)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )