I have a rock in my flower bed that has interesting markings. It looks exactly like a happy Chinese man. I’ve called him Chun Li since I found him on the beach several years ago.
The other day, my friend walked by and said, “Good bye, Chun Li.” Then she gasped and said, “I guess I shouldn’t say that so loud.” She thought it might offend my new Chinese neighbors.
I learned from the previous owner of the house that my new neighbors didn’t speak much English, but the older Chinese man in our neighborhood who speaks very good English had helped with the negotiations for the purchase of the house.
This older man has lived four or five houses down from us for two or three years, and I’ve always been friendly with him in passing. We both have dogs. When walking dogs, it is easy to say hello to strangers. The other day I was sweeping my front porch and he called out, “You not working today? It’s clean-up day.”
Knowing he is friends with my new neighbors, I want to get to know him better too. I’m going to ask him his name next time I see him.
I said hello to the Chinese couple as they were walking back from the old man’s house this evening. A young mother, her daughter–who looked about four-years-old, and a young man I thought might be a teenager, but could be the girl’s father. They smiled and said hi back. When I said, “Welcome to the neighborhood,” the mother answered, “Yeah.”
I don’t think she really understood what I said. Maybe next time I will say Ni Hao.