Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Getting Lost in the Neighborhood

After lunch, Ding Hua and I decided to go for a walk to see the beautiful fall foliage. It was really the first time for me to see such magnificent fall views because my city was in the subtropics and was evergreen almost year round. It was so much fun to walk on the leaves—crunch, crunch. We had so much fun walking around our neighborhood. Soon, we didn’t have any idea where we were and we wanted to go home. Every tree looked alike and every house too. Then, we saw an old lady walking with a cane ahead of us. We quickly caught up with her and asked her where Dell Street was. She raised her head, very friendly said, “Dell Street, it’s just two blocks away. I will walk you there.” “Oh no, just tell us how to get there,” I said. She already had great difficulty walking with her cane. But she replied, “I insist.” So, we let her walk us home with one of us on each side of her since we didn’t want her to fall or trip over. Then she said, “you look new here.” “Yes,” we said. “We are new graduate students from mainland China and arrived just two days ago.” “I always wanted to go visit mainland China, but I only made it to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Now, China opens its door and I am too old to travel. I am eighty-two years old and I have a bad heart. I traveled around the world with my friend Lucille, visiting many countries. It was the greatest time of my life.” She started to tell us her story.
     It was two very short blocks to our house. Instead of going to the front of the house, we walked to the back. “Now, we know where our house is, let’s walk you back to your house and make sure that you get home all right.” I said, “I always like company, but you don’t have to do that. I always go out for a walk when the weather is like this and it’s good for me.” She said.
     Soon, we received a note in our mailbox. The two ladies Marjorie Banks and Lucille Smith had invited us over for tea. We went to their house for the first time. It was a very nice, comfortable house, small but elegant. They had all these collections in their living room, especially an oriental screen, and Chinese characters that meant “happiness, wealth, and longevity” on the wall. These things made us feel at home. After that visit, our friendship grew. Ding Hua studied for a year and then returned to China. In a way, the two ladies provided me with a second home and were there to help whenever I needed assistance.

Marjorie, Lucille, and Marjorie’s daughter Rafe in front, classmate Handi (Chinese) from Indonesia, our English teacher in Syracuse University and her boyfriend.