Beijing – Tiananmen & Forbidden City
Beijing, lit “the northern capitol” is a city that has an intimate connection to me. I am an American, through and through. But my body is born here, in Haidian district. This city flows in my blood and it has been nearly 2 decades since I last visited it.
I have been carried through, and even walked these streets with my baby legs until my brain had developed the capacity for memory, then I left. But it seems I remember glimpses of being “from” here – the smell of the air; the sound of the tens of thousands of people’s voices that meld into a single droning hum; and the millions – truly millions of faces that look like me, yet also delivered to me an indescribable feeling of alienation.
This is where I am “from” technically, the place where my birth certificate lists even as it is translated from a script I can hardly read. Herein lies the paradox – I seem Chinese, I AM Chinese as it is in my blood, and others see me as Chinese in America where I call home; yet as I blurb out broken Chinese with horrendous grammar with behaviors and mannerism so alien to the locals I confuse the locals who expect me to be one of them yet so clearly see that I am not.
I am here, as a pilgrim to my past, to “my” culture, and to myself. As I walked these streets, listened to a familiar strange tongue, perhaps I will feel close to myself … or perhaps it will only reinforce that I am a stranger in a strange land no matter which land I reside in. We’ll see.