I grew up surrounded by bits and pieces and stories from/of China. Clifton Park New York in the 1960s was/is a long ways from anywhere.
I left ‘the farm’ when I was about 16 or 17 – there was a blurring effect toward the end of the 1960s. Firstly I went to Orlando Florida then Key West then New Orleans then San Francisco for the summer of love and New York City in between then on to Oregon and to Hawaii, and on and on with so many places and memories between then and now.
Growing up in upstate New York I heard the stories of my relatives who were missionaries. Some in Cambodia and Viet Nam and some in China. I still have a suitcase of silk robes and bound-foot wear from the 1930s before the missionaries were shown the way out of China.
We have been packing all year – that is eight months. Firstly it was our house in NYC and sending a 7X6X5 foot crate to Dalian and leaving a house of furniture then renting it out. Then there were the two houses in upstate New York with more stored stuff and now rented out so we can forget those belongings for the time being. In a long round-about route we ended up in Clifton Park in 2002 to look after my father who lived to three months short of 102 for four years before grabbing some teaching gigs in New York City for these past five years.
But it is here in Adelaide, South Australia where I lived for twenty-years the largest pile of the past has lived. A shed full. Now that the in-laws are in their 80s and moving into a smaller home we had to move our shed of crap to Narda’s son’s house in the hills. There were more than one-hundred boxes of the past and in one was the passport of my aunty from my childhood who went to China – in the 1930s. Now we are going to Dalian China for two years, not as missionaries – well missionaries of capitalism I suppose, but as school teachers. We have been to China four times in the past: Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. We never thought of living in China, we had planned to move to India but all these years after living in a house with a lot of items from China we are off to there in six days. I will take my aunty’s passport with me and perhaps leave it in China. I have spent a few hours on this chilly Saturday 23 July reading about missionaries in China in the 1930s. An interesting study but sorry mate and my family’s past but I left those beliefs behind back in the 1960s except for a seven year period (1969 – 1978) in a cult order that I would like to leave further behind than Clifton Park.
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