Devon from the Teacher Training invited me over for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a small gathering, 8 people around the table, mostly Devon’s local close friends and loved ones.
Devon’s friend Caroline noted how we’ve arrived from different places, and how pairs and triple of us have all sorts of experiences in common. Only two of the diners were born in California, Caroline and Devon’s teenage son. This lead to origin stories.
Devon came from rural Pennsylvania. Her blond hair and blue eyes are probably from the Pennsylvania Dutch in the family.
“When I was in China, everyone was shouting ‘OK’ at me,” Devon says, “that’s all they knew how to say in English, and I stuck out as a sore thumb. I am just riding my bike there, and everyone shouts ‘OK’ at me the whole damn day.”
“You lived in China?” I ask. “Well, no,” she responds, “I was just there riding my bike for a couple of months.” That was back in the nineties when Devon was a couple of years younger that I am now, before her son was born.
She flew over with her bike to ride around Southwest (?) China for a couple of months. She stayed at village guest houses for the locals, would ask: “Is this a hotel?” (one of the few phrases she knew), and be led to a small room with a pad on the floor, and given a sheet of paper this big for toilet paper. There were mosquito nets around the bed, but the toilet was sometimes not much more than a gutter somewhere outside, and the mosquitoes would attack one’s butt viciously during visits there.
The roads were sometimes just packed gravel, tough for a road bike. Each village was responsible for its own roads. If they couldn’t afford the paint, they’d use pieces of the broken plates to mark the road. When Devon first saw that, she thought she was seeing things. There she was riding the bike, looking at the ground, seeing red good luck symbols and dragons all lined up.