Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jordan/Missy: Happy Birthday, Yuan-wei

Posting from mid-air again. As much as the real Yuan-wei says she's in love and wants to stay Ronan's wife Sandra forever, I strongly suspect that she'll be trying to get me to return her life to her the first time she has to fly coach, especially if it's something like going from Boston to Hong Kong and back again. Between the wi-fi and the comfy seats that turn into beds and the food that doesn't suck, First Class is way better than romance.

It's not my first trip to Hong Kong; my family took a summer vacation there when I was fourteen, seeing some of my parents' older relatives, cousins, and family friends, and also trying to get me and Max a chance to experience it before it was completely digested by the People's Republic.  That's part of the reason that I know Cantonese a lot better than some of my Chinese-American neighbors; in addition to wanting to be able to talk with my Grandmother, I always thought about coming back, although this is not the way I imagined that.

(It made an even bigger impression any little brother, who really latched onto a Chinese identity around that time, and one that's really HK-specific. He has extremely strong opinions on how people from Beijing are buying the city up and pricing its longtime residents out, along with student protests and other points of contention like that.)

It's not easy for a New Yorker to feel overwhelmed, but the airport did so, at least a bit. I speak Cantonese, but as a second language, and it would take a minute for some of the announcements to register in my head. Some got repeated in English, and there was plenty of signage with English on it, but this was my first test of being Yuan-Wei and belonging in this place, and I hated feeling like a tourist. There were a few moments when I would hear an announcement repeat or someone speak and think my languages skills were even more shit than I'd feared, until I realized that there was a lot more Mandarin being spoken than the time I came here as a kid.

(I should probably look into classes for that. I can order food in Mandarin, and know some other words, but the original Yuan-Wei was trilingual, because anyone her social class with her ambitions needs to knew the language of the Mainland, and it would be weird if I didn't.)

I tried to summon confidence while going through Customs, and I think I did okay. I kind of wish I'd been a little more outgoing as Deirdre, just so I had practice at being the smiling, cheerful, pretty girl that guys just wave through, but I settled for answering questions quickly enough that I didn't come across as a terrorist trying to maintain a cover identity. I'm not a terrorist, after all.

I'd gotten a message that ''the driver" would be waiting for me - yeah, I've been gifted a life where the family has a staff; what the fuck is up with that? - and since I only had my carry-on (the same suitcase Yuan-wei left back in Maine), I got to the pickup area pretty quickly but felt like I spaced for five minutes trying to remember the symbols for my name.  I kept looking for "money" rather than "peace".  I may not be anxious to be called "Missy" (is it weird to change your Western name? I mean, Jordan's kind of androgynous), but I would have spotted that.

The car was nice and not too fancy, and the driver was a good chance to practice my Cantonese and get some hint of what was coming up.  He was either glad I had come home for a few days, or very polite, saying he understood how hard it must have been to come back since "my" father's death in the winter.  I didn't recall the original Yuan-wei saying they had been particularly close, but she gave me the information so I could pass as opposed to spilling her guts to me.

I let him take my bag when we got to the house, because that thing was pretty damn big and I had no idea where Yuan-wei's room was.  Of course, I didn't figure on being stopped by "mother", Chen-ai, on the way in.

We hugged, and I said I was sorry for not coming earlier, but it was easier to stay in America for a number of reasons. She shrugged it off, although she made a crack about being surprised I wasn't insisting on speaking English after being there so long.  Then she looked at my outfit - a t-shirt and some ripped jeans - and said it was a good thing that there was a dress laid out in my room.

There was at that, although it was kind of sexier than I'd expect a mother to choose for her daughter to wear to her twentieth birthday party. But looking at some of the photos scattered around the room, if looked like Yuan-wei and her mother were no strangers to fancy occasions - there was my new face with Chow Yun-fat, Josie Ho, and Jackie Chan, and while Yuan-Wei was generally not dressed as sexily as her still-got-it mother, she wasn't wearing bows in her hair or shapeless bags, either.

I looked the door before stripping down, and spent a little time looking at my naked self in the mirror. As much as I was pretty sure that I was going to be into guys as Yuan-wei - even if I never acted on it, that's what set the purely biological alarms in my body, and there was no reason to expect that had changed - I still had a lot of connections in my head between seeing a hot girl and getting turned on, though, and shit, the girl in the mirror is fucking hot. This was the first time I'd seen all of the new me; I'd sort of changed clothes hit by bit at the Inn and in airport restrooms. It kind of hit me, looking at my body and the photos, that Yuan-Wei's movie-star dreams might actually be realistic.

It meant dressing the part, though, so I went for the dress. Picking it up, I could feel that there was boob support built in, so I didn't need a bra. Weird how that made me nervous, after resisting them so much as Deirdre, but these C-cups didn't leave a whole lot of room for doubt. The dress did help, although I don't know that I'd want to wear things like that for more than special occasions.

That doesn't take into account zipping the damn thing up, either! I managed, but I did briefly wonder if the Lee family was wealthy enough to have chambermaids who could come in and zip me up. Heck, maybe asking would be in character for Lee Yuan-Wei, but there was only so far that Jordan Chang from Queens was willing to go.

I looked good in the mirror, but I also knew that the girl in that dress wouldn't be seen in public without makeup. It made me wish Annette/Benjamin was there in my place, even if there were no way he'd get through the airport. Or at least there to help, but then folks would think he was my boyfriend, and we apparently aren't doing that.

Fortunately, there are demonstration videos for this sort of thing on YouTube, and Hong Kong isn't completely behind the Great Firewall of China yet. It went slowly, and I'll have to learn to do it myself eventually, but then all that was the shoes.

Fuck high heels.

They were the only thing in Yuan-Wei's closet that went with the dress (in that they were both red), so I crammed my feet into them and started pacing the length of the room. Pro tip: Don't pay too much attention to your ass swaying the first time you walk in three-plus inch heels or you'll fall on it.  Ex-guys should probably pay some attention because literally putting one foot in front of the other is not natural for us and you look like a total goon otherwise, but it's a tough balance to find in the half hour before you're told guests are arriving and realize, oh fuck, I've got to go down stairs in these fucking things.

Since I'm typing this, I didn't break my neck, and I wound up mostly enjoying the party.  I was never a party person before, but they are a lot more fun when people are constantly coming up to you, telling you that you look amazing, saying they're so jealous of you getting to go to college abroad, with the guys trying to figure out if you're single and the girls asking about the clothes.

After a while, I could tell which ones were probably Yuan-wei's closer friends, because they had specific questions about "Benny", classes, and other stuff, because they'd kept in touch via messaging and Weibo and the like.  I said things had gotten complicated with Benny because of his ex, which was kind of true, and that I was still in the film and theater program at BU, which was true enough from the schedule of classes in my new bu.edu mailbox.  A lot of them wanted to hear me speak English, and were amazed at my accent.  No way to tell them I was cheating there, or any way to ask how my Cantonese sounded.  I mean, it's got to sound weird, and it makes me wonder if this family is so rich/powerful that nobody's going to say so for fear of upsetting us.

I'm glad it was a big party, even if some of the folks there were clearly seeing this as an opportunity to suck up to Chen-ai.  I got to meet a lot of people who were a part of my new life in some capacity, but didn't have to get too in-depth with any of them.

And the cake...  My god, that was the best chocolate cake I have ever had in my life.  I am going to hate not having that sort of thing more often, but having seen this body naked, I don't want to fuck it up.

Anyway, it went pretty late into the night and I didn't feel like leaving, which is kind of a first for me.  It feels really weird to say this early on, but I think being Yuan-wei is going to be fun.  I don't really want to say I've traded up, and I know that the whole Trading Post Inn deal is intrinsically horrifying, but the perks are pretty damn great.

-Jordan/Missy/Yuan-wei

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