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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tea time & Talk

Yesterday, I finally did it… After weeks and weeks of putting clothes shopping on hold, I finally did it! I went on the biggest shopping spree. I first wanted to go by myself. But after many attempts, I realized last week that it’s too hard and too time consuming to do it alone – the language is too big of a barrier. Especially when shopping at the biggest clothes market. Last week I tried to do the ‘high street brand name’ shopping, but everything is 3 and 4 times more expensive than it is if you go the market (which is always the case).

So I took Elaine (Chinese colleague) by the hand… or she took me by the hand, and off we went. Only 4 solid hours it took us! She is truly the queen of shopping… as well as being the translator, the bargain hunter and the guide through the maze of stalls. The amount of clothes that’s on offer can be so overwhelming and finding the places where the style is suiting me, can be nearly impossible. But… we ran, we were on a mission and it was brilliant! I was on such a role, with around 20 bags hanging out of me… going, going, going… And by 1pm I was back at home and absolutely delighted that I gave up my pride and admitted to needing help with this ‘thing’ called clothes shopping. Years ago, I loved clothes shopping, but then I slowly grew to not love it so much and I found that every time I’d go the shopping centre I’d end up looking for the nearest coffee shop, just so I could sit and write instead of actually shopping… even when I’d be in desperate need of clothes. But after yesterday, I can honestly say that I love shopping again… in China… with Elaine! How cool… and how grateful I was for her bargaining skills ;)

So, I was back at home by 1pm… but the day had only started: I’d planned to also host a tea party! Yes… It was my ‘themed’ house warming party. After being in my new place for 3 weeks I figured it was time to open up the doors of my apartment and let the people in!

The best country for tea, providing the best selection – green, jasmine, rose, lily, ginger… all served in the cutest little tea set, with some biscuits of course ;) It turned out to be a small get-together of 8 of us, which is exactly what I wanted. At first I felt like a ‘dumb-wod’… or a bit of a stick in the mud, for not giving a ‘proper’ booze fest. But then I thought… “Nope! I don’t care what others think of this ‘boring’ themed party!” Giving a booze fest would’ve only been for everyone else who was in need of getting drunk and I would’ve just been doing what others expected. So, I went a head and did my own thing and gave a house warming with a different touch, without expecting anything major to come of it. And it was so cool! I loved having people here and being able to show what I’ve done to the place. Man oh man, how nice it can be to be in a place that’s mine for everyone to actually acknowledge that ‘yes, this apartment really is Niamh’… My music, my incense, my tea… ;) Happy days – living life in the fast-lane!!! (that was a hint of sarcasm… if it didn’t come across.. haha)

Everyone was here until around 8 or 9pm. Then we went to the local nightclub. Monday night, kind of a strange time to party, but it didn’t stop the booze fest from starting. I did join in and danced everything out of my system. How relieved I felt to dance again. It had been a month or so since I last went dancing… So it was high time! I got myself ‘out of whack’… by drinking vodka, smoking a few cigarettes, eating shit and going home with strange men… haha… Ah no, it was just my 2 old roomies. I stayed at their apartment as I couldn’t get a taxi home. And it was actually really nice. I thought I’d hate stepping foot inside the Manhattan apartment again, but it was good… Because I knew I had my own place back home… This morning walking from there back to my own little spot, with a small hangover and looking like hell and feeling exhausted… I was so happy. I picked up street food; the perfect cure… And now… I’m sitting at my desk, realizing today is my 3 month anniversary. Crazy… 9 more months…?? Maybe more, maybe less…

I was speaking with Matt last night, about life in China. He wanted to know if I was happy. But he wasn’t ‘buying it’, when I said that I am. He can read people pretty well… and reckons my body language in the office says everything… I know I’m an open book… So, apparently, everyone who can ‘read people’, will read that Niamh isn’t happy. Huuummmm….

It was actually nice to hear this from him. It shows that he cares and it also confirms the struggles I’ve had over the past few weeks. This week has been better, so I’m moving through it… Matt also said something else interesting… “When you first arrived, I never expected you to stay…when taking into account all the other travels you’ve done… how can a place like this ever give you what you need…” Hummm… again… something that was nice to hear. Both things he said were perfect confirmation of what I too have wondered. How can a place like isolated and enclosed Jinzhou give me the things I need? I instantly knew what Jinzhou was giving me. A place to work on the book. The book is probably the anchor that’s holding me here. And the isolation, the rules and structured life is almost forcing me dip into my own sense of inner freedom and to strengthen that feeling so it becomes a rule of life, no matter what society I’m placed in. This goes for the work environment too… I have to bring my own free approach – the one I have outside of the office – into work. It’s about being open towards everything and everybody. And when approaching life openly it also needs to become natural to feel protected by the freedom I have to be me, regardless of what’s happening in the world around me.

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