Right away when I got back, I went on a week-long binge of all things deliciously bad: Mexican food laden with cheese, bread, cookies, bread, mashed potatoes and gravy, bread, hamburgers... Baked goods were the real kicker (if you can't tell). It was so great eating bread that didn't taste like Sweetheart with a lot of extra sugar, which was the average find at my neighborhood bakery in Hangzhou. Another thing I couldn't get enough of was salad. The crisp, fresh, and cold texture of a bowl full of greens was a beautiful sensation that was a rare treat in Asia.
Once a week had passed, my stomach was screaming at me because I had eaten everything in seven days that I had denied my body for nearly seven months. So I decided to go on a strict exercise and diet regimen. Of course, the two weddings I was in within a month were added inspiration. Needless to say, the salad obsession became an integral part of my plan.
I've stuck to it and I've lost all of the weight from my beer and food binges in the Far East and have gotten over the novelty of having delicious baked goods and cheese in unlimited quantity.
Tummy and intestines: China-free.
Praise be. Though I would love some great street meats on sticks, dumplings, or wok noodles...
In terms of the outside of my body, I've gone to drastic measures to eliminate the air pollutants who have dug in and made my pores home. I've done facials, peels, and invested a small fortune in skincare products to try purify my skin. For those of you who have never had a facial or peel, they're not exactly relaxing, pampering experiences for troubled skin. An aesthetician uses metal lancets to dig junk out of your face, and whether intentional or not, you will cry. And if you get a peel, after your skin is gauged open they wipe a layer of strong acid all over your face for deep exfoliation.
It burns. I imagine it's how a creme brulee feels when it's being torched to be burned and caramelized: the sugar (like my skin) is crackling and burning in pain, but the end result is something smooth and lovely.
Yes, I just likened my skin to a French dessert. Weirder things have happened.
Chinese pollutants ridden from pores: work in progress.In terms of my mind, I'm gradually becoming less China-fied. Living there gave me an ultra high tolerance for awkward social situations and has consequently made me a bit more awkward in general. I just don't notice prolonged silences or odd statements as much as I once did. Every now and again I catch myself saying something Chinese sounding, but no one would catch it unless they had lived there or were an ESL teacher.
Although, one of my friends did admit to saying "bye-bye" at the dental office the other day... It's forgivable, he's only been in the US for a few days.
I still get amazed in large crowds of foreigners. And by foreigners I actually mean Westerners. I had a wonderful time people watching at the Street Fair in Fargo today. It was the largest crowd I've been in since coming home and even though I'm re-accustomed to seeing non-Chinese people, it was still oddly refreshing.
I did notice there were a lot of Chinese tourists at the Street Fair today. I felt guilty for staring at them like I got stared at in China. It was nice to see fantastically bright and unique shoes, denim that could only have been dyed like that in a Guangdong factory, and shiny new American Eagle shirts purchased within a day or two from the mall in town. They all had the unmistakeable wide-eyed, euphoric expression of someone soaking up a brand-new, fascinating place.
I wanted to badly to say a little "ni hao" to them... but I would have felt weird with my American friends, who were already poking fun at the way I was curiously staring.
As much as I can successfully rid China of my body, it oddly became part of my soul. Not in the romanticized way that living in Rome became a part of me. No, China kicked, scratched, and beat his way into my character, and I definitely don't want to detox that.