Frozen Beijing with Joy, China, 1992

Joy in Beijing with Chameleon Pink Cheeks, 1992 China, Beijing Province – 35mm film

January 6, 1992

Menu item: Fried bean curd in the form of a guitar.

This is my little notebook on China. Joy sits across from me. We both write at the midnight café down the street from our hotel, the Beiwei. This convenient hangout and meeting spot is open till midnight.

This is my fifth day in Beijing. There is snow on the ground. Ice skaters crowd the frozen canals and lakes. The winter air is dry and invigorating. I am in a place of magic, surrounded by Joy’s love. I can only revel in this fleeting paradise. I don’t know what next year or next month will bring. I only can wonder why I can’t freeze time here and now.

Tonight was too much magic, if there is such a thing. Joy and I kissed on a walkway next to a stand of bamboo. “Close your eyes,” I said to her. She and I stood, eyes closed, holding hands. The wind blew and rustled the leaves. The world stood still. A thrill went through my body. My lips met hers in one long, soft kiss in the cold air. At that moment, wind rushed through the bamboo. It was as if the wood of the bamboo was struck like a primeval xylophone. Never to my recollection had I ever heard such a sound, yet it was familiar in some odd way. A gust of breeze stirred the bamboo again. I felt a complete bodily tingling from head to toe. It was the most wonderful sensation. It felt as if this natural music was transforming my being.

I kiss your lips
While the wood of the bamboo
Plays mellifluous music
Primeval, exquisite
Long ago buried in my heart
Now strangely familiar
The rustle of leaves
And the winter chill
All carried on a zephyr
Blow a heaven through my body

Giant Tea Kettle China, Beijing Province – 35mm film

From the moment we’d entered Beihai Park, I felt uplifted. The lake, at least a half a kilometer in each direction, frozen solid, was covered with powdered snow. A large Tibetan pagoda sat on an island in the lake.

We traversed the ice, running and sliding. From the top of the island, as the breeze seared our hands and ears, we looked out on a striking view of the pavilion in Jingshan Park. There below us were snow-covered canals and lakes and the Forbidden City.

Beijing Opera China, Beijing Province – 35mm film