Hello and Thank You

Hello and Thank You

I wasn’t sure what to put in my suitcase on my first trip to China. I packed for hot weather, for rain, for cold weather, and I also brought the two words that I knew in how to say in Chinese: Hello and Thank You. Knowing that I would bring back souvenirs and keepsakes, I left room in my luggage for what was to come.

What I hadn’t prepared for was a country in transition, a country changing so rapidly that I felt like I was witnessing the future and the past all at the same time, with the present, only a blur of motion, like a school of fish without a specific destination, working hard to move through life.

The enormity of place exists along side glimpses of what once was. Mountains of rubble and bright orange building cranes coexist, as constant reminders of what will be. In between ravaged structures and changing skylines, remnants of tradition, celebration and history press back against the change. Flashes of red appear in the gray landscapes, swaying lanterns decorate the storefronts, and hints of a culture of color and ornament peek through the haze. In a world of Communism and consumerism, of traffic and the press of the millions, of smells and flavors and survival, China felt like a dream, where I too, joined the school of fish moving through a new dimension of perception, not sure of my destination or place in the world, but deeply transformed by the experience.

These images are what I was able to fit into my visual suitcase, captured in slowed down moments when I could step outside the blur. They are my postcards of small memories, of gestures and moments of being, and my hello and thank you to a country that makes me want to learn the rest of the words.