After my last puppet hunt in Shanxi, I returned to Beijing and used my last week in China to eat my favorite foods, see my favorite people and take a trip to the bathhouse.
The week was more than surreal. It was horrible and wonderful. Ever since I had arrived, a part of me had looked forward to the end. As with any adventure, it’s an experience of all colors, shapes, sizes and intensities. Above all – it’s big. I didn’t have a single day that could have been labeled as routine or mundane. And, after 10 straight months of challenge and adventure, all I wanted was a non-challenge. And oatmeal for 365 days in a row.
Still, how does one say goodbye to such a year? Such an experience? It seems silly to bookend it, and yet, when doing research abroad – one must. It’s nearly impossible to bring it home with you. The information is there, but the feeling is so elusive.
Bringing it home with me has been the hardest part of the transition. Not the reverse culture shock. Not the fact that people obey traffic laws or refrain from spitting on the sidewalk. Not the relative isolation we Americans live in or the cleanliness. Just simply that I can’t live in both these worlds at the same time. They are, geographically and mentally, too far away from each other. I am the single being that can connect my two realities, corroborate my own story and so far, it’s been clumsy at best.
I believe this only feeds into my mission: to create a bigger bridge, for myself and others, that merge these two realities: to introduce Chinese shadow puppetry to new fans and stewards around the world and celebrate with old ones.
I plan to continue this site as a general Chinese shadow puppet informational blog. I will keep processing my own observations of the year, my own personal attempts to innovate or preserve the work and any return trips I make to China to continue my research. The posts will slow, but my passion will not.
Thank you to anyone who read this blog and lent their attention throughout the year. Chinese shadow puppetry and I, thank you!
A Few Big Thanks:
- To the Fulbright program, for making this entire thing possible (and to the amazing support from the Beijing, NYC and DC Offices)
- To my parents, who are the best cheerleaders (and blog editors) a girl could ask for
- To all the shadow puppet artist in China, for showing me a generosity I had yet to experience and dedication that I hope to honor for years to come