It’s 6:25 am and the sun is slicing through your window curtains, grazing your eyelids, while sending a golden beam of warmth to your face. You look at your alarm clock and see that you have 5 minutes remaining before it’s set to go off. Insisting immediately, you proceed to fall back asleep, hastily throwing the covers over your body, savoring the sweet joy of shutting your eyes, if only for a moment. The alarm goes off and you’re awaken from your slumber. Time to pray and thank God for his many blessings and the ability to see a new day, whilst making a change in people’s lives. Now the first decision of the day must be made, brush your teeth before or after breakfast? After careful thought and consideration, you decide to forgo breakfast at home and grab a bite on the way to work. While brushing your teeth, you go over the coming day in your head and try to fill it with as many positives as possible, preparing for the adventure ahead. As your own personal stylist, you open your closet to 2 company shirts and 1 company sweater to wear. Either of which you can match with an array of pants or shorts and shoes. After choosing today’s attire, you bolt out of the door and head to work. You await the elevator to greet you with open arms and whisk you away to the bottom floor. Granted however, the door opens and you’re greeted by a slew of people, packed into a space that’s seemingly too small, but you risk the chance of suffocation and morning breath invading your nostrils, in order to make it to work on time. You make it to the bottom floor and walk briskly to work. As you walk, you notice the grandmothers with their infant grandchildren, peering at you in bewilderment, as this stranger is still trying to make sense of their new home. You get the occasional smiles and “hello’s”from some of them, some more extroverted than others. You finally make it to the breakfast vendor near your job and get your usual morning fulfillment. A freshly made crepe, filled with bean paste, minced garlic, chili paste, lettuce, deep fried flour bits and local sausage. You get into work right before the clock deems you to be responsible or not.You usually have a good balance of both.
By now you’ve began to master the art of various childhood dances you adored during your youth, while maintaining a sense of glee as muscle memory takes over and you seemingly go into a trance, maneuvering flesh and bones, while barely thinking.You are also engulfed in a host of responsibilities, resulting predominantly from the fact that you have to pretty much be a parent, educator and even a sous chef at times, by assisting with various snacks and some meals. While teaching the students, you become a student yourself. Realizing that you have to be extra careful with your grammar and that auto correct isn’t available on markers, not yet at least! Your Chinese Teacher and yourself work together seamless and effortlessly. The routine seems almost choreographed or maybe telepathy is in play as you know each other’s next move. However, it’s all due to amazing chemistry and the relationship you both share. As you’re writing an example on the board and the marker protrudes it’s last drop of ink, you dare not even bat an eye at such a tragedy. You glance over and another one is whizzing through the air, doing somersaults in your direction. You catch it and proceed to write on the board, without skipping a beat. Lunch that isn’t prepared at home, is an adventure that challenges you to be bold and encourages you to push your gastronomical limits. Do you go with an obscurely placed cafeteria nestled in an office building, do you find yourself getting a boxed lunch from the street vendors, or do you go with the biggest guilty pleasure available to foreigners, and devour Burger King or McDonald’s? The day rolls by and the students enter and exit like a revolving door. You practice Chinese with the desk assistants during one of your many breaks. Wisely, you use this time to brush up on oddly placed verbs and grammar corrections you had forgone with your actual Chinese teacher the night before. If you’re lucky, the remnants of today’s lunch won’t come back to remind you of a poor decision you made.
Alas! You’re done with your shift and after parting ways with your coworkers, you immediately decide on the the nights festivities. Usually it’s a quick run to the gym, followed by a hefty portion of something cheap, greasy and filling to make up for all the new callouses on your hands and the sacrificial sweat dripping out of your pores. The smell permeating the air is a bit different tonight. You wander about the streets releasing your heart’s soliloquies, as passerby’s gaze upon your presence. A few Skypes and Snapchats to family and friends, relinquishes your spirit and reminds you of your purpose. Vibrating in your pocket is a message on Wechat. A good friend is inquiring about joining them and other familiar faces, for a night of jumbled words, blaring sounds, and unforgiving tequila. Empty promises to leave at a decent hour and an abundance of love makes it all worth it, and if needed, you’ll do it all again the next day.