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Indulge

The price was too low, I couldn't resist, so now I confess; I bought a Sheryl Crow CD. Guilty pleasures...

The truth is Ms Crow and I go way back. Nearly a decade ago after working all night at Waffle House, exhausted from slinging coffee and greasy food at weirdos, drunks, factory workers and fishermen, as the dawn arrived and the customers subsided for a brief while, I would drape my aching self over the juke-box for three minutes and listen to "Strong Enough." I don't recommend the song and can easily produce many theories as to why it meant so much to me then (for one thing there wasn't anything better available) but listening to it now, a million miles and hours away, I can't help but feel a bit proud.

Little ole' waitress me actually became a world travelor! Depending on what is eligible, I have filled up all my fingers with the countries I have walked in and will soon be moving on to toes. But even better than being able to say I have been here or there is the fact that I actually enjoy this! The first years were rough, and after Costa Rica I was so exhausted I nearly gave up. The lonliness, uncertainty, and longing for familiarity seemed to ruin most international experiences. But somehow, I think it happened in Bangalore, I just got past that and learned how to learn how to roll with the punches (that is not a typo - you never really know how to roll with things, it is a new experience every time).

So now I still feel lonely, and I get an ache in my stomach each time I have to approach yet another stranger, but I appreciate the scenery along the way more. I am excited to notice the clothes people are wearing, how they interact with each other, the food they buy, what the vehicles and roads look like, how sparse the vegetation is (I rarely get out of the city). Every day in this city where nobody (well, almost nobody) speaks any language in common with me I collect smiles and faces. I enjoy watching people laugh (and laughing with them) when I do silly tourist things like trip on a step, get off the bus wrong, ride down a dead end alley because I can't understand what the man is saying (and I have to ride back by him on the way back).

Today the sun finally showed itself in cloudy Chengdu (the clouds didn't go away, they just parted a bit) and it was wonderful bicycling weather. I hopped on a sqeaky old rust bucket and cruised the roads, trying (and succeeding) not to get lost. I found the library, (an impressive building full of Chinese literature and with a wonderful veiw from the tenth floor, too bad the cleaning lady wouldn't let me take a picture), the river, a college, and lots of dead ends.

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