11th, December, 2010. Sarah booked my hotel and I went and printed out my flight ticket from a local printing shop. The atmosphere was tense and exciting all day. Mum and Dad and Sarah where all a bit stressed and snapped at each other regularly. I think they were worried that I would not be able to travel on my own. Dad began saying enthusiastically how much meat, vegetables and beer he will give me to take on the train. I told him quit clearly that I would not eat anything on the train and that I would take a few beers. He looked a bit disappointed and worried, like I was planning to climb Everest equipped only with a small packet of crisps.

Catzu who I believe is an excellent conductor of stress, began trying to dispel the general tension by dashing around the house, flying into walls and jumping up peoples legs.

In the afternoon we met Coach Ma at a sichuan fish head restaurant. Unfortunately he was very ill and the meal was quiet and strained. No one saying much, eating slowly. He gave me a book of red paper window cut outs, all pictures of wrestling. They were so beautiful and I was so touched by the present. Yifu, Sanyi and Hao hao also came along for the meal. After the bill was paid we walked home, I said goodbye to coach Ma and told him I would call when I got back. He looked so ill, sweating and tired; he climbed into his van and drove off. As this was happening Sanyi, Yifu and Hao hao had all left without saying goodbye. I wished that I could have said goodbye but they always do this. Certain people just don’t do goodbyes.

I brought a couple of pairs of ear warmers on the side of the road and Sarah and Mum laughed at me as I wore them back home. Many workers peddling slowly on the road on their three wheeled bikes had the same ear muffs on. Dad had walked home extra fast, he always does so, a man with a mission.

Sarah and I carried on past our flat and we went to take some photos of my wrestling school, I took some videos of a group of elderly people standing facing a brick wall, eyes close hands on stomachs and a look of other worldly concentration as they practiced qi gong to a song about the revolution. A man with a kit let the line out as far as it could go and stood watching the small bird shaped kit in the far distance, a small blip next to the sun. A small exhibition about corruption and the police was being shown in the park next to the running field. A throne with a pile of money, a glass of wine, a woman’s foot in a red high heal under three of the legs. A plaque underneath said “ Money, women and drinking are the way to a high position of corruption.”

Sarah and I rested and woke up in the evening. We got a taxi to the porridge restaurant I first went to with Truman. I wanted Mum to go there as she basically only eats porridge, whenever we go to other restaurant she pretends to eat the food but under the well practiced exterior I can tell she is thinking about getting back home and making herself a bowl of bland rice porridge. Dad Mum Sarah and myself arrived and Friendly rung to say he would not be able to come until much later. I was glad; to spend some time with my family until I left was more relaxing and comfortable. We ordered a bowl of porridge each, Sarah got the chicken one, Dad and I the sea food and Mum the plain one. Thick slices a fatty pork with rice buns to put them in, a banana pancake, salty donkey strips and salty eggs. Dad and I drank the home made bie jiu and he told me “ this is your home you can come back any time whenever you are unhappy where you are, please come home”, Mum nodded in agreement “ Yes and next time you come back we will have a wedding ceremony for you”. Her eyes alight and interested “you have given so much money when you have gone to other weddings now you can get some back” I said to her jokingly. Mum giggled embarrassed and surprised at what I said. We ate slowly saying little but I felt calm and content. None of the manicness of the past week, I had reached the eye of the storm, saying good bye to my Chinese parents and wife.

Friendly and Ariel arrived we drank some more, ordered some food and Friendly and I said goodbye eventually. I was sadder at the meal and I was exhausted of sorrow when the time came to say goodbye. I collected my bags and Sarah, Mum and Dad and I piled into a taxi at 11:30 to get to the train station. I didn’t really want them to come at first but in the car then going through the station I felt pleased they had come. While Dad went to buy tickets for them to be able to get on to the platform with me Mum asked worriedly if I was alright to carry so much luggage. I told her the story about when I was first coming back from China, How I had a moped accident while I was drunk, had deep cuts on my upper thigh and ankles, and road burn and bruises every where not to mention a deathly hang over and had to travel from Yang shuo all the way to Hong Kong with almost twice the amount of luggage “It was the worst time ever” I concluded as she giggled repeating what I had said. The train came early and I managed to dash on being the first one. Without even a hug from Sarah I court a glimpse of her face as the person behind me pushed me deeper into the carriage. I found my bunk and stowed my bags underneath my bed and looked out of the window down to the dark platform where Sarah Mum and Dad where standing waving at me. The train shuddered and jerked into motion and they passed out of sight.

I lay down on my bed with a sigh and drank the beers Dad had put in a bag for me, I fell asleep hours later as the dark night passed by outside.


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