Morning Has Broken Me (Almost)!

Posted by Tyson Meade on May 10, 2013 Blog | | One comment

Every morning, every weekday morning, I hate the morning every weekday morning. I HATE IT! HATE IT! This term I have early classes. I hate it but then actually to contradict myself I love it. Without fail, at around 5 am, I wake wondering how much longer I have to sleep before I have to get up and face the day, put on a face for the students, figure out how I am going to have successful lessons that day.  A few more times, I wake and look at the time until I finally get up. Most days, I get out of bed at 6:45 on the dot though my alarm is set for 7:30 am. I have never slept until 7:30 am except for the day when the math teacher switched with me and I taught at 1 pm.

Once I am up and getting ready, I don’t mind the morning. Actually, I like the morning. I am one of the first ones up and on the street, so the street – a usually busy street, West Nanjing Road, with taxis honking and hawkers hawking – is relatively quiet. Perhaps a few people are waiting at the busstop down the block from my door but other than that no one is around.

The Talent Drink Shop, which is by the busstop,  is not open at this time.  This is where I sometimes get my plain milk tea, or pudding chocolate milk tea or on occasion I have had Tiramisu milk tea. At the Talent Drink Shop, the teaboy calls, sometimes in anguish, for people to try  the tea. His coworkers laugh when he does this. I often stop and talk for a minute and all of us try to decide what we are saying to each other. Most of the time, they ask me if I am done working for the day. “Sha Bon Le Ma?” But this happens later in the day, not in the morning when I am walking to work.

At this time, no one is around but the guards guarding the buildings and the bakers baking the bread or rather the bakers are taking the bread out of  the ovens.  Most of the time, I walk across West Nanjing Road, which is the street that runs outside my apartment. Sometimes I then walk across Chengdu Road and continue on West Nanjing Road or I might walk one block up Chengdu to Fengyang Road.

However, Fengyang Road is an early morning hub that takes me by the hospital which can be a little depressing seeing old men and women being wheeled around in wheelchairs after some mysterious operation or some operation that has not yet happened. Or even more depressing is when I see an abandoned old man or woman in a wheel chair waiting for someone who may or may not ever come. This is depressing.

On this street, the cars and trucks and busses and pedestrians and scooters and bicycles and occasional chickens crowd and vie for space on the narrow lane that was never meant for anything bigger than a fruit cart. The silent electric scooters whizzing by are the worst,  the most lethal, like stealth missiles, smart bombs.

This is the middle of Shanghai. Remnants of the years still cling like cobwebs but no one seems to be reminded. Time marches on like it has no past. Neighborhood upon neighborhood is decimated to make room for monolithic Ayn Rand high-rises. Confucius makes room for Capitalism with a capital C.

On this street, this busy side street full of bustle, people are buying their figurative daily bread – vegetables and rice and noodles and rice noodles and chickens (skinned) and turtles (alive tied up in bags) and fish (swimming in wash tubs). I dodge the bicycles and cars and carts and  scooters and make my way on down Fengyang Road past Xinchang Road where I once lived. Sometimes, I see old neighbors. I try to figure out what they are asking or telling or what they want. Deductive reasoning tells me they are asking me where I moved. Did I go back to America? Have I been living on the moon? Have I finally found a wife?

Most of the time, at 7;30 on the dot, I hear church bells. I look up to see where it is coming from. By this time, I am usually near the grocery store. There is no church there, just chicken and rice and grocery items. The church bells continue. They seem to follow me. Have I stepped into the oriental Tell Tale Heart? Did I murder some old glassy eyed man and not remember?

The Bells! The Bells! They are melodic. They do not drive me mad. They are nice. They are my morning accompaniment.

As I am making my way on to school, past the early morning make shift eateries, the ones that are set up on Dingxing which I walk past after I have turned off of Fengyang and have traveled half a block down Huanghe, I wonder about these bells. They travel with me to school. And then, I remember, as I am climbing the steps to the school, as the announcements and exercise music is playing, as the guard in front smoking tells me hello, that the bells are me. I take out my phone and the bells get louder. I turn off my alarm and

Walking to school!

Walking to school!

I am at school. Morning is not so bad. I am done for the day in a few hours.

1 Comment

  • Jennifer said on May 15, 2013 2:27 am

    Love this! I too hated every weekday morning when I was teaching! It is so nice to read about Shanghai through your eyes and hear the names of the old familiar streets. Miss you!

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