Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chinese New Year, part 2

The family that was coming to pick me up to celebrate Chunjie got lost on the way, so I waited outside the apartment complex for almost half an hour with a small suitcase and Shawna’s bed, trying to get Shawna to be calm. I thought I was stressed out.

The family arrived, we stuffed everything in their car, Shawna sat on my lap with her head out the window, and we started driving. And we kept driving for quite some time. I remembered from the first time I was at their house that it was pretty far away, so I wasn’t too worried, but then we pulled into this raggedy neighborhood and got out. We had apparently reached the place where Shawna was supposed to stay and it looked like a garage. Cement floor, unconfined space—which wasn’t going to be a problem because they intended to just keep her tied up on the leash all day and let her out a few times a day to take care of her business.

This seemed like a bad idea to me, since the apartment Shawna is used to staying in has heat and nice people and space to move around in. At just that time Mom called from home because she had just gotten an email in which I casually mentioned my trip and she was really worried because I hadn’t gotten the owner’s permission. The reason I hadn’t is that they were in Thailand on vacation and I didn’t have a number to reach them, but Mom knows people who know people, so she said she would work on it while I told the family to hold up.

It seemed we were at the husband’s family’s house, because he suggested we eat dinner and then talk things over. They started eating dinner, but Mom called back and said that she hadn’t been able to get a phone number yet and that I couldn’t do anything until I had permission. So I was in the middle of nowhere, in a situation I clearly didn’t understand, and was now convinced that even if Shawna could come to the mom’s family’s place despite her mom’s allergies, that the dangers of the countryside would do her in and she would be lost, stolen, or dead from disease. I’m a fairly conscientious person, and I’m in a foreign country and felt like I had practically killed Shawna already. I really started freaking out. Luckily Mom was on the line and calmed me down enough to figure out a plan. I would just have to tell them that I really wanted to be with them, but had a prior commitment that I had to take care of.

Shawna, meanwhile, was roaming around the husband’s family’s house being fed all kinds of exotic Chunjie treats. I went to join them, had my first taste of baijiu, the local wine which is too strong even for people who do know how to drink, and then told them as best I could that it wouldn’t work for Shawna to stay with that family. Like I said, though, I don’t really know how to say that I was taking care of the dog, so the best I could communicate was that it had to be with me.

Pretty sure that I had told them what was what, I got back in the car with the wife while the husband stayed at his family’s house. As we were driving, the mom said she had come up with an idea. Shawna could stay with her brother for that night, and then in the morning we would leave. This seemed like a really generous plan to me, especially since in the morning it would be New Year’s Eve Day and I didn’t think anyone wanted to be out carting around problematic foreigners, but she emphasized that it was only for one night, so I finally agreed.

An hour later we arrived at her mom’s place, dropped off Shawna with her brother, and then I went to sleep, eager for the morning because it was only going to be one night.

1 comment:

Mel said...

so i was talking with mom in the car, and i was like, "i can just see will. being extremely flexible, going to unknown places, with complete strangers, in a foreign city, with a somewhat foreign language, and a little dog who he probably talks to like rosie. and be completely cool with it."