Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers Center photo by Sarah Newman; additional photos courtesy of the author essay efore Taigu, people warned me: China was a fiercely social country. After I arrived, I rarely went anywhere unaccompanied. I was ushered into crowded noodle stalls and into corner stores stuffed with plum juice, chicken feet, and hot-water thermoses. I often needed help at the post office, with its hundreds of strict regulations and wisp-thin envelopes you sealed with a depressor and paste. Students took me to the White Pagoda and the courtyard of H. H. Kung, the only historical sites in town that hadn't been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Eventually, I'd be invited into my Chinese colleagues' small apartments, where several generations of the family often lived together. I'd be generously served five kinds of dumplings, the bowl full again before I had the chance to set down my chopsticks. In the unheated, Soviet-feeling building where I taught university English, I waited in line with other women to use toilets without doors or stalls. At first, I tried to turn my face away from the others, demurring. But there was no use trying to hide anything about our bodies here: whose
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 2, 2016
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