I did not spend much time with her. I wish I had. I wanted to tell her about my granddaughters back in the states and ask about her life in China. She looks as if she is about my age, which means that she probably lived through the Cultural Revolution. I wanted to find out what she was doing when I was capturing fireflies in the Mason jar and sitting on the crank ice-cream maker … the burlap bag covering the cold…ever so cold ice…while we awaited the sweet most delicious treat in all the world…….. Did she have that? Was there a time when she sat with her grandfather in eager anticipation of that fabulous reward? In those few moments, we shared an unspoken joy…a love of our grandchildren.
Oh I couldn’t pass this one up. When I saw the weekly challenge, I immediately thought of the curves in the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai. You see, Shanghai and China have been on my mind a lot lately because I’m flying to Shanghai a week from today to begin my summer job. The Yuyuan Gardens are rich with curves in doorways, walkways, and archways — all inviting the tired traveler to a quiet peace.
While wandering the streets of Shanghai, I watched this young woman on the street. Delivering something? Perhaps. Watch her. Watch the direction of her head as she glances upon the glitz in the shop window and then continues on to complete her tasks.
It seems that this tattered door with peeling paint leads into people’s lives. Do you see the mail boxes? Someone must be living here. Who?
Are they as worn as the door? As broken as the door knob?
Does the door hide a lonely woman who is waiting for her son to call? Does an old man check the rusted mailbox each day, hoping for a letter from his daughter? Does it lead to an apartment filled with a happy, noisy family? Does it open to an artist pouring his soul into his music?
Does the door open to lives of despair…or hope?
I surreptitiously watched card games and Mahjong games being played on make-shift tables on sidewalks all over Shanghai and Feicheng. The players, seated on small collapsible stools, spent hours at their games.
I was disappointed that I was never able to get a picture.
At the end of my stay in Feicheng, I had a few hours to wander in the park across from our hotel, and finally got my shot, not of cards or Mahjong, but something equally absorbing. The haze of cigarette smoke drifted amidst the men who were so focused on the game that they took no notice of me or my camera.