Saying Farewell in Flushing
You better speak Chinese in Queens
It could’ve been a street corner in Beijing or Shanghai, what with all the squinty-eyed folks running around with their fresh produce while hawkers shouted out in Mandarin Chinese. But this was no Far-East outpost. No, it was Flushing, Queens, yet it didn’t look anything like the Flushing I remembered.
I was here once before, in 1991 I think, with my Dad’s friend Ray and his cousin, to visit their family. Then Italian-Americans, or at least descendants of random Northern European immigrants mainly populated this neighborhood, but there’s been a huge population shift in the last decade.
All those old-school immigrant families have moved, to Florida I would guess by the growth there, and into the void waves of Asian immigrants have flowed. So much so that Jingmei, who’d come back to the USA for a visit, was impressed by the similarities.
From the many groceries with fresh produce and live fish shipped in daily, to the many Chinese eateries, banks, and businesses, she could spend the whole day, and do all her shopping, without once speaking English. For me, it was an easy reminder of all that I loved and loathed about her country, from the tasty food to the lack of nightlife.
Our time together also reminded me of how much I loved and loathed about Jingmei, yet it was also an amazing watershed in our relationship. For the first time we could look back on our time together without the hurt and fear present before. We could be open and honest like never before, even laughing at our old habits that would’ve sparked a fight only one year ago.
We were also able to tell each other deep feelings that before, in our swift move to marriage, we repressed for fear of upsetting the whole process. Feelings that had the other known would’ve changed our relationship, maybe even ending it before that great marriage leap, but surely making it more open and honest.
Nuladna. Its water under the bridge now and I don’t regret a moment or a movement in our two years, especially the last moment & movement.
I was waiting with Jingmei for her train at Union Station, expecting a long and tearful goodbye, when she turned to me and with great ease, said I could go. In shock, and I must say, happy shock, I hugged her and we said goodbye as close friends, heavy in our heart but happy our minds, our choices, our past, and our future.