Honestly tho like if I had a penis it’d be a huge one
I just know it
already i can’t remember anything about my old life. occasionally i find an old photo or an old bit of writing but it’s like getting a transmission from someone else, intercepting someone else’s memories. i don’t know anything about that person. i’m not even sure i would like them.
The time came to leave you, Beijing, and I saw then how clearly you didn’t care. I was rereading a long book, I’d been reading it the summer before I moved here, and the first time I read it I was captivated, just laid-out by this book. I stayed up almost two days in a row, pausing only once, to shower. The book mesmerized me but it also disgusted me and when I was finished I wanted to be rid of it, but the wiry Indian man who ran the used bookshop in that town wouldn’t take it, even for trade. This book is too big, he said, what backpacker is going to buy this?
So I carried the book with me all the way to you, Beijing, into a series of dark and impossibly cold winters and blurry, rapid summers. Now, getting ready to leave, I read the book again and people stare at me on the subway or in coffee shops—who reads such a preposterously thick book? People ask me what it’s about and I always try, gamely, to explain, but I can’t.
Mostly it’s about murder, I tell them, but there are long monologues about television and folk remedies for digestive problems. The person was just being polite, I know; nobody actually gives a shit what the book is about.
I schedule the flight for early in the morning because I don’t want to have to say goodbye to anyone, but it gets delayed and my roommates and I spend one last smoked-out hungover Sunday spread out over couches, playing video games, quoting dialogue from cartoons. Then it’s time to go and I feel flushed and scared, leaving you, Beijing. My roommates embarrass me by insisting on walking me to the cab, insist on saying goodbye. Satomi is there and she cries, because Satomi cries at everything.
I’m carrying the book while we try to flag down a cab. When I first came to Beijing the cabs were plentiful, you couldn’t open your door without tumbling into a waiting taxi. Now competition is fierce and what match are we, really, for the fierce girls of Beijing who will, if they have to, throw their bodies in front of a cab to make it stop?
Satomi looks down at the book and asks me what it’s about and I say, slowly, It’s about women. It’s about women, in the eyes of men.
Then I’m in the cab and my friends vanish around a rush of cars. I try very hard to remember something I wanted to tell her, which is silly, I know, because I’m already gone, and I can always tell her later, by email, maybe, but I know it won’t be the same.