The building smells of cold cement. It’s a comforting smell, it keeps Ming grounded as she feels her way down the stone stairs that have the color that is indistinguishable from that of the wall. A couple more steps, and she’s on the 2nd floor and the window there let in the silver gray moonlight that does not enhance the coloring of the winding stairway. But it is a nice relief nevertheless. Not that Ming minds it either way, the darkness with its soft edge always envelopes her, while the otherworldly moonbeam elevates her and makes her solemn. She welcomes them as the old friends that they are.
Now she’s out of the building. The world seems more surreal even. When one finds home in the shadows, the opening of the space, even just the space between two rows of identical buildings gives the sense that somethings can be shifted in unexpected ways. It gives she the sense of awe and the joy of being able to feel that awe. The shinny gray resident walkway under the moon and the sparse tree covers looks like a static river, and on this river, Ming floats among the two three-story buildings, looking at nothing and everything. She does not feel like anything is surprising, and yet. There’s the window with light still shines through it, the curtains contain the secret of that particular block of space, so small looking from she’s walking, yet so deep it’s impossible to penetrate.
Rows of identical buildings are etched in her mind’s eye. They are like puzzle pieces of life, never-ending combinations and permutations and multitudes of variations under the stars, made of concrete and lives, bicycles and trash bags. And now it’s all so quiet. Like everything are in its proper place, for this moment, and then everything changes again, and yet not changed, it’s just a cycle that repeats. Ming does not understand why that is.
Getting out of the neighborhood of the maze made out of 3-story building is a revolution itself. Not wanting to looks back once, she steps outside of the pull of a mysterious gravity source that is called home, into the market place that would have buzzed with activity starting in the early morning with the breakfast crowd. Ming can smell the DouFu Nao (spicy tofu soup with bean paste) and JianBing Guo Zi (green-bean crepe with egg, the best morning starter ever), but that is 9 hours away, so she savors the mental taste in her mouth and hurries on.
Not that she does not want to be seen walking alone, a ten-year-old child, in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night. But she has a destination, and she has a purpose. This grand adventure has set in her mind an identity, she is living it, she is not afraid of anything, only worry is that she is not able to be that person. She is chasing herself. When the street lights alternates the color of the world with each of her steps, she imagines nothing, but this world within her. The colors are her own, the echoes of her steps are as firm as her steps, the darkness and the dim lights washes over her mind in time, the wind is as gentle as prayers that she dreamt. The world is hers.