I have prided myself in my navigational ability inland and at sea... not anymore! I have been lost so many times the past two weeks it's ridiculous! In Paris and here, in Chengdu! The phrase I silently repeat most often to myself is: "What can I control? What can I control? What can I control?" It has become a calming mantra for me as I get exasperated with wifi issues at home (5 minutes to load a page), inability to communicate, frustration at my stupid old POS iPhone not having wifi outside of home or school, difficulty in transportation, eating, buying groceries, my debit and credit cards not working here, inability to get all the apps that I need to survive here (everything is app-based)...
...Just the basics of moving to a foreign country where I don't speak the language and suffer from my own impatience at wanting everything to be finished in one week. The impatience stems from the urgent desire to feel SETTLED and SECURE. When I can't find my way out of a damn multi-level grocery store (which is in a multi-level mall) back to the street so that I can walk two blocks home (like last night!) -- that sinking feeling of helplessness creeps in and I begin to feel overwhelmed. Luckily, even in the angst, I remember--well, it takes some time, but eventually, I remember--to take deep breaths, be patient, and ask myself "What can I control?". After fleeing floor after floor, walking in circles, and starting to feel frustrated, tired, and anxious, I start looking for someone to ask. I pause mentally to remind myself that yes, I will eventually get out of this grocery store and get home... I will not have to move in to the store and live here... this present scene has its end... I am still trying to hold and accept that nothing will last forever (good or bad); the concept of forever has caused me pain the past!
Yes, I am rambling; I need this outlet :-))
Please click on the "read more" link to the right...
So there I am, lost, and this grocery store is uber-crowded, huge, and I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. I haven't had dinner; unless you count yogurt and juice at 5:30, just before the film began (OMG!! BLACK PANTHER!! Sooooooo inspiring!!!), but I don't want to eat, because I just want to go home, it's Friday night after an uber-long week, and I've been wandering around for near 30 minutes trying to gain distance on two blocks to arrive home! I want to get out of this overwhelming, sensory-overloading, massive space, and get home! It's difficult to know whom to ask for help. I am in the Japanese supermarket (can't recall the name), next to Metro, another supermarket. I had walked to Metro two days prior, and know that if I can just get back to Metro, I can get home! Of course, the clerk can't understand me, but she calls another person for help. Then he gains the assistance of a third who seems to be a supervisor who, apparently, seeks the "English-speaking" clerk. This gracious little woman, so sweet and helpful, almost makes me cry with her polite, obsequious assistance. Her English, while good, doesn't help us much; niether does my minimal Putonghua. Eventually, with the assistance of her translator app (see why I need I new phone!!?? So I would have access to the damn net and I could use my translator app as needed!!) we get closer to the solution. Within a few more minutes, she is guiding me up the escalator and taking me to the street level entrance/exit!!! But here is the truly amazing part: while she is helping me, she keeps apologizing in general, and then apologizing that getting out of the store is taking so long! "I'm sorry" and "I'm sorry for the delay"... as I exit, she wishes me a pleasant evening. Can you believe it!! I really wish I had brought more Trader Joe's chocolate bars to give out to all the Chinese people who have helped me, for soon I will run out! When she apologizes, I negate her apology with an apology and thank you of my own in return, offering profuse gratitude. I finally make it home...! (The story of that mini-adventure with more miscommunication at a cafe LOL will come later!)
This is not the first--nor will it be the last-- narrative of my "Lost in China" adventures... perhaps I need to create a blog page solely addressing this topic!!! But I am so grateful for all the people that have helped me and continue to do so. All I can do is compliment the people of Chengdu. 99% have been friendly, outgoing, helpful, kind, and go above-and-beyond what most people would do to help. I mean, how many store clerks would escort a lost foreigner to the exit! Thisis twice someone has hand-held me to get what I need and where I need to be.
I love Chengdu! I am grateful! Thank you!!