Co-Worker: “Mike, we need to talk.”
Me: “Of course, Co-Worker, what’s up?”
Co-Worker: “Mike, this is really important, and I need you to listen to me.”
Me: “I’m all ears. Is everything okay?”
Co-Worker: “This is very serious.”
Me: “Shit. Okay, dude, what’s up?”
Co-Worker: “Don’t sell your kidneys under any circumstance.”
Me: “But what if they go for a really great price?”
Co-Worker: “Mike, I’m serious! Nice lady buys you coffee, next thing you know, you wake up in an ally with a ice-pack on your back and a sign that says, ‘Get to the hospital immediately.’”
Of course, this is when I gasped, followed by an immediate eruption of laughter. His final advice was to avoid the woods, send him a text message every single day, and if I ever get woozy in public, immediately take a cab home. All noted, and I shared with him that my actual plan is to just make a huge production about how my kidney was already stolen the previous week, and what a waste of time I would be for the thief. Great strategy, right?
Thankfully, I am finding my way and certainly taking it all in. Tomorrow marks two full weeks of life in China, and time is certainly moving quickly. I am mastering the art of using chopsticks, and have even had a few adventurous moments with food. Now looking back, it is kind of funny to think about my first night in town. That particular night, I debated what to eat with one of my new coworkers, and we eventually settled on Pizza Hut. “It’s probably the safest option for you at this point,” she argued. Touché. She was probably right. And speaking of food, my stomach finally has some sense of understanding as to what is headed down the pipe, despite earlier admissions of a summer of tough bowels. I’m feeling pretty good about some of the…outcomes, I have experienced thus far. Plus, the food has been amazing (sorry for the temptation posts via all things social media) – even bread and butter has been on point.
Of course, this, “understanding,” does not cross over all paths of my experience. I am still not entirely sure what all I am eating. And furthermore, I am spending a lot of time walking around and picking up on no more than 5% of what is being said to me. Is this what aloof feels like? I smile a lot. And nod. I have learned that, in an environment where we don’t speak the language, we end up spending a lot of time with our own thoughts. This can be terribly destructive or incredibly beneficial. Im choosing the latter. It’s been nice to hear myself think for once.
Now that I am finally free of jet lag (which is absolutely a thing, y’all – though, I have only publicly admitted to a 2-4 day struggle when the reality is more like a full week of not sleeping – I still stand by the belief that if I had not taken that 4-hour nap on the second day in town, I could have actually achieved a quicker heal…woah, I digress), I’m moving past my rookie mistakes with ease.
Specifically, I am moving forward into a new weekend and great week ahead…hopefully with both my kidneys. As I have been reflecting more and more on this experience and the abroad-experiences of others, and amidst often blasting, “The Color Purple,” soundtrack and weeping alone in my room, I am certain that I am in the right place at the right time. I don’t know what that place and time mean or look like, per say, but I am certain I am there. Let it finally begin (whatever, “it,” has become for me).
Building an identity around, “Mike,”