The Wave

PRIMITIVE - Saturday, June 27, 2009

I have ten oranges in my bag. They were given to us as presents by various vendors. Food in China is a very big deal. No one misses a meal and it occurs to me, feeding a billion and a half people is no small feat. At dinner I am overwhelmed by the amount of people. It seems like they are pouring out of and into every opening.

We are dining in the hotel because it’s late, and frankly, there’s no time left to explore. I’m leaving in the morning. Once the waitresses announce the kitchens are closing, the tables empty like water down a drain. Some vortex sucked them out and now we are the only ones left. Staff members whisk off table cloths and fold down tables. Soon it looks nothing like the restaurant, and I am annoyingly aware of the emptiness.

Claudia offers me an explanation: “China is like a wave at a stadium,” she says. When one person starts, the next follows.” I adopt the restaurant for a national model. China has one billion more people than America and we are the same size. This fact boggles my mind for a moment. How can one country be so unified for its size? How can a government organize this many people? China, I think, must be a wave. Then I realize how fitting it is for this trip to end here. Tomorrow, I’ll be riding the wave home.