Moving quickly to the end
Kuàzi in Chinese.
Hashi in Japanese.
We say chopsticks.
I love following the words, characters and meanings.
Somewhere in this 4,000 year eating utensil history, the characters suggested “quick” and “bamboo”.
No Zhongwen scholar, I’ll leave that to others.
I like to eat slowly, but I still call my kuàzi my “fast sticks”.
Perhaps like a Louisville Slugger.
“Stand back, mápó dòufu! Swingin’ for the fences!”
But of late, neuropathy has taken residence in my fingertips, to a numbing effect.
Those mountaineers among you, you know that pre-frostbite feeling of numbness and hyper-sensitivity, an incongruous pairing. Or pre-hypothermia.
But those pass.
This never will.
I got it.
My typing is terrible.
Not to mention trying to finger A Major 7th on the Strat without looking.
But I have always had foolish pride in my kuàzi skills.
I see myself at round table dinners in Fuzhou or Seoul or Tokyo or Shanghai, being the one laowài showing off being able to pick up three peas or three edamame beans in a row. Try it.
And now, I can no longer do that.
Or play the most beautiful chord without looking down.
Or button my shirt.
We have dozens of pairs of fancy kuàzi and hashi.
Ceramic, lacquered, round, slender, ornate.
Korean sticks are slim and metal.
I always teased Korean friends theirs were “Olympic”, since they were so hard to finger.
It is all about one’s fingers
And, if you can’t feel ‘em…
So, I ordered really basic, wooden, Chinese-style kuàizi. Thicker. Chunky. Simple.
The Peoples’ Sticks.
Hoping I might be able to feel them.
Not yet desperate.
Maybe just longing to hold on.
Strangers nick my luggage at a Guangzhou train station.
I have too many bags.
Why am I watching everyone else’s?
I search for my passport and my keys and wallet. All are missing.
I am fearful and lost. How will I get home?
Streets are unfamiliar, the sky light is darkening, my hands no longer work.
Where is my phone?
Letting go is all I have left.
Maybe try to pick up just one edamame.