Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Life and Chinese Sandwiches

This is a Chinese sandwich. I bought it from the convenience store by our house. I'm not sure what possessed me to try such a thing, but I was feeling adventurous that day. It's comprised of bread, cheese, more bread, a breaded pork(?) patty, still more bread, mashed potatoes with carrots, and yet another slice of bread. (Carb overload, anyone?) It actually doesn't taste that bad, once you wrap your head around the fact that yes, those are mashed potatoes with carrots on a sandwich. But it doesn't necessarily fit the bill if you're craving a nice shaved turkey deli sandwich with tomatoes and mayo on whole wheat bread, kwim?

In some ways, this sandwich is a good reference for how I've been feeling lately. We live in an amazing city, one of the largest in the world. The culture is intriguing, the language is fascinating, and each time you walk out your door you never know exactly what might happen. Sometimes I compare life here to that old computer game, Myst, where you were plunked down in an unknown world and your mission was to wander around interacting with the environment, pulling levers and deciphering symbols, attempting to put the pieces together and figure out just how that new world "worked." I loved that game. But the nice thing about that game was that you could hit "save," turn off your computer, and return immediately to the safe, predictable world that you were accustomed to. No more struggling to figure out what words were being said, no wondering what behavior was expected or discouraged in a given situation, no guessing whether or not a sandwich with breaded pork and mashed potatoes with carrots would be a pleasant surprise or an epic fail. Some days I wish I could just put the China game on pause for a day or two - take a drive through our hometown in my Suzuki SUV; go shopping at Target or Michaels or even just a plain old Walmart. Listen to American music on the radio, or watch some English television that isn't in dvd format. Have a sandwich and a freshly baked cookie at Panera. But only for a day or two, because I know all too well that I would soon miss our China adventures. And tomorrow, if you dared me to buy the mystery meat and egg salad sandwich sitting on the shelf next to the takeaway sushi, I just might do it.

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