Episode Ten

May 2010

Certificate of Marriageability – YES the leap of faith is coming. The Taoist magic has been consulted, the most fortunate dates have been forecast, and the legal ceremony takes place June 1 – Children’s Day. Hong made up her mind, perhaps the cumulative impact of my comforting soul, my reassurances, the passage of time. I basically hinted that her waiting five years to agree, finally, to go through with the ceremony, was way too long.

We moved apart, because she wanted space, and my daughter needed to get away from her students and downtown – and the cat too is happier out in the boonies. So the mountain wouldn’t come to Mohamed – so I went to the mountain. Like so many Taoist hermits before me, within me I keep the universal key to happiness.

I am ending poetry classes with a flourish of thought provoking poets, so there is some strain of the brain on how to deliver this to non-native speakers. TS Eliot, Ginsberg, Carl Sandburg, Frost… and some interesting modern poetry styles. And end with the future of poetry – micro-poetry, stuff like Twitter etc. Some of it is an exercise in futility, but I am inspired to deliver the goods. My students who read poetry at the Poetry Reading for Shakespeare’s birthday, and the ones who came to event, along with many who email me, are feeling the vibrations of the great minds, so I want to gave it all I could.

May 2010

the pre-nuptialization of my thoughts

We are flying to Hong’s home province for the legal signing of marriage certificate. Not exactly sure the procedure but the lead up has been arduous. I had to get the paper from the US consulate in Shanghai – no problem. They ushered me in with great courtesy and finished in less than ten minutes from entering to exiting. I was three hours early, and just wanted to check my time, but the guards just showed me in. I sat there in the company of my fellow Americans and felt so relaxed – felt the cool efficient glow all around me of the shiny land of plenty;…okay I have been here too long, when carpet, quiet and air conditioning fill me with pride.

So I got the papers, stamped by Vice Consul, and we sent to Hong’s home province where they rejected them, because the stamp on the paper didn’t have the word Shanghai on it – What the F**K I bellowed. They were only familiar with ones from Guangzhou, which has the name on it. So to please a petty bureaucrat, we went back to Shanghai. Hong decided to drive there.

We raced the clock, because nothing ever goes according to plan. So we made it consulate again and there was a huge line of Chinese applying for visas. There solemn faces looked upon me with woe and envy as my daughter and I waltzed to the front of the line, flashed our passports and we were shown inside. This time it took about five minutes. The girl behind the counter stamped the same paper with two more stamps, each with Shanghai on them, and asked her boss if there were any more stamps so we could cover all bases – that odd need for efficiency I hold on to.

DONE – I have to admit, as I was leaving I was humming America the Beautiful.

So we rushed to nearest Starbucks to use their free WiFi. Hong had brought her laptop. I took a photo of the new page. We emailed it to the obstinate bureaucrat. She rejected at first and had to ask her boss – wait, sip Cafe Americano, wait, sip, wait…. no reply. So we gave up and walked around Shanghai – city of 16 + million. It is not as crowded as you might think.

Well the office finally okayed the document and we ordered our tickets.

I had never met Hong’s parents – after all this time (over four years), they seemed to always be out of town, or plans were changed. So we will fly in, meet and greet. I will offer them money, as is their custom (so I have been told) to thank them for raising their daughter. Then next day go to government office and sign papers, hand in all paperwork and be officially joined.

Hong is not a romantic, so I have told her we should exchange some token of our affection. Then I had to explain to her what that meant. I anticipate nothing. I have a jade ring that my mom wore all the time. I am writing a short poem, and will read it to Hong, and slip the ring on her finger. I want my mom and my family’s spirit to be with us. My daughter will stay here, and not travel with us, because the whole thing will be tedious for her. Then we have another meal. The next day we fly back.

I have been waiting a long long time for this. I proposed the second day after our first face to face meeting. I am certain that the universe has pointed me here, held me above the dark oceans I have crossed spiritually and delivered me from the shadows I faced long ago. Even though it is just a legal ceremony, Hong and I are forging a bond that I refuse to ever break. This will be forever for me.

Optimistically facing the future,

June 2010

Well, the meeting with the parents went very well. Dad answered the door in his boxers – shirtless and mom in a thin pajama ensemble. It is hot in Hong’s hometown. At first they seemed relatively indifferent, and then they began to warm to me. We spent about an hour then said goodbye.

The next day we went to the wedding office. But before we left, I sat Hong down and gave her a poem, and small card with two butterflies, and a jade ring which my mother always wore – I felt the vibrations were right, and Cate had carried it with her when she came to China, so in a metaphysical sense my little family was with us. And I had told Hong to find some token of affection for me.

Well, she surprised me and gave me an old copper coin from her grandfather. Her grandfather was a powerful fengshui master and geomancer. His potent energy still has an impact on the family. The coin was in his possessions when he died, and it may have came from a horde given to him by a mountain bandit, who revealed the location of the stash before he died. The money then became both a blessing and a curse, as during the cultural revolution the family became a target for purges, and the family wisely had already given away the gold. So this coin had great sentimental value and her mom helped her pick it out, and told many stories of the family, when she gave it to her.

The office is in a distant part of the city. The office building is hard edged, cold metal and soviet style design. Now we were face to face with the nemesis – the woman who yanked me back and forth to Shanghai. She did her best to drag it out. Glowering at us like a cat playing with a mouse, but Hong and I are both experienced with this cat and mouse game. Follow each step they put before you, get a copy of this, pay more, go get a copy of this, pay a little more. Answer the questions briefly. Show little emotion, then sit back and wait for the official papers to flow. Well, Hong’s mom had predicted that we should be married on June 1, between 11:00 and 11:30.

Well, as it seems the Universe took a hand in Hong and I being together, it also took a hand on this day. The first paper we signed came to us at 11:00, and we walked out of the building at 11:29. Ah magic, in small ways it is everywhere, when you dance the cosmic dance.

We then had lunch in the cafeteria of her old university, where she taught kids. We had eaten there the first time we were together. And when we set down, I freed a butterfly which had been trapped inside the curtains, as it flew out the window, I felt great hope for the future.

Then we went out to dinner as a family. I took everyone to a large Cantonese place selected by Hong, where you order the dishes as you like – Dim Sum style. Older brother, younger brother, parents, sister, sister-in-law (older brothers wife) son, nephew and the happy couple. It was GREAT. We all ate until we were full. I exchanged envelopes of money with mom and dad as tradition dictates. Then we went to older brother’s place and drank kung-fu tea. And as the name implies, it is powerful tea designed to give you energy. Older brother gave Hong an artistic teapot and for the two of us, he gave us a huge chunk of petrified wood, saying that the family wished our love would last longer than this and shine like the stars. Very poetic.

So here I am, a married man again, taking the headlong plunge into the future – on the horizon there are clouds and sunshine – as there always is. Hong and I are more in love and deeper enmeshed within each others thoughts. It is a feeling of intimacy and happiness unlike anything I have felt before. I am happy like when I was a kid and the youthful mind, empty of worries, could just float and be in the eternal moment.

I had a dream the other day – a dream of running fast and just lifting off the ground and flying, through my old neighborhood. When I was a kid, I often dreamed of flying, floating on the wind, slowly drifting like a kite without a string. The dream has returned, and I am happy. I supposed we can’t asked for more than that in life.

July 2009

Did they just say, there the airport is closed because of a UFO?

A photo taken by a resident in Hangzhou shows an unidentified flying object hovering over Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang province, late Wednesday, July 7, 2010.

Okay, to add to the wonder of being married, Hong arranged for her son, who I gave the English name Edward, to come and stay with us for a while. I don’t know what she had to promise her ex-husband. He is a great kid. I taught him how to play basketball, we went to the zoon, and ate a lot of good food.

While he was there, the airport was closed due to a UFO sighting. Yes, a UFO sighting closed the international airport for some time. Planes were grounded and flights were diverted away from Xiaoshan airport in Hangzhou City. Airport authorities immediately notified passengers to stop boarding and grounded all planes about to take off as flights were rerouted to neighboring airports.

The UFO sighting was the cover story of an issue of the China Daily that week. Of course, Edward, Hong and I went UFO hunting while we were out playing basketball. We saw some strange lights in the sky. But it was difficult to get a good photo. These may have been made by a kite with lights on its tail, or balloon or some such thing. Or….

Maybe there are stranger things in Heaven and Earth than us meeting over the Internet, falling in love, and getting married.

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