A not-so-short tale of a meaningless event...
So today marks the date. It's officially one whole month since I first stepped out of that tiny, packed van and onto the school grounds of Shenzhen Oriental English College. It has gone by unbelievably fast, but I still feel like I have been here for awhile. I've gotten accustomed to our accommodation and life here and was quite happy about everything. I'd spoken to Mrs. Ying (our vice president) about my missing washing machine, but she was really stressed at the time. So I'll probably have to remind her again. That was my only problem- until lunchtime today, that is.
I had lunch with Amanda and we just talked about the usual stuff- our stay; the lessons and the students who most often than not, are impossible to handle. We were about to leave, when a Chinese woman approached us hastily. She greeted us and sat down beside me. She'd apparently talked to Amanda earlier that day and asked her if she'd told me about my room. Amanda looked confused. The woman turned towards me as she said "You're Serenity?", To what I replied "What?" "Serenity?" she repeated. "Oh, Cecilie"" She said shortly after measuring my mute, skeptical expression. She waved a key in my face and told me that I had to move to another room. Because in a few days they're tearing mine down to make a two bedroom apartment. Amanda and I both live on the 7th floor. There's one door between us, and I'm the only one moving anywhere. "When can you move?" she demanded. "Er, today is fine. I don't have any classes this afternoon" I asked her when I had to be out, and she said that the other Chinese teachers already moved this weekend. I was in Dongguan, so she couldn't reach me. She didn't even try to call me so I don't know what to think about that. "By today, or tomorrow (Tuesday) preferably" she told me. Ok, so that doesn't leave me much room to plan ahead. Tuesday is long day for me, so I figured, move tonight and just get it over with.
When I woke up this morning I knew nothing of this. I was going to spend the majority of the day planning for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade classes- so I won't have to plan tomorrow. But this changed when I was told that I had to move out. I took a quick nap, because I was almost asleep when I came back from lunch. Then I spent 2, 5 hours packing everything and cleaning up the room. I dragged all my stuff out and Amanda helped me to carry it down all the flights. My "new" room was in building 4, room 112. First floor. "Great, I don't have to climb 6 flights of stairs everyday." I thought. Truth is I don't even mind all the stairs anymore, I hardly get any exercise here anyway.
I found the door. It's right by building 3. I struggled with the key for awhile, but eventually the door opened with a loud creak. In the dark room before me my eyes looked straight at the ceiling, where something was dangling from a string. Two dark, glassy eyes stared emptily back at me. Carefully swaying in the draft from the door, the tainted innocence of an old, creepy doll greeted us. That was basically all there was left in the room. The only thing with colour in there was the faded red dress of this old, "executed" doll. The walls where white, like in an abandoned asylum. Everything seemed to be touched by death. Spider webs and a filthy, broken desk, an extremely uninviting bed and about 500 dead/alive flies. There was a squat toilet which looked like it hadn't been cleaned since the last century, and a bunch of cocoons and unidentifiable insects under the sink. It made my 7th floor room look like a room in a five star hotel. The maintenance lady (which was the lady I met at lunch) is called Caroline. At lunch she had repeatedly said that this move was only temporary, it will be about 50 days and then I'll be able to move back. Hearing her stressing that it was temporary made me think that this new room maybe wouldn't that great. I expected a squat toilet (but a relatively clean one!) I didn't expect to have to sleep in the room of a psychotic serial killer who rips little girls' dolls apart in the dark of night. Because that was really what it was like in there, it looked like a real life crime scene or a set from the most disturbing horror movie imagined. I was upset to say the least, I was actually scared for the first time since I got here. If I had entered that room alone, I probably would have cried, but luckily Amanda was there and she was equally freaked out. She told me that she almost expected there to be something written in blood on the walls. Every fiber in my body protested against staying in that room for longer than 5 seconds. I will not be sane after 50 days in there. I carried most of my stuff angrily back up the stairs to the 7th floor and called Caroline. I told her that the room was quite...different. She seemed to be unaware of the state of it. Because she said she'd talked to someone about bringing a mattress in- there was already a mattress in there. Not that I ever want to sleep on it, the serial killer probably used it to absorb all the blood from his killing sprees. I'll rather sleep outside, it's cleaner and free of any nightmarish sights.
She asked me if there's anything else I needed, i told her that there's no bedding and no internet. No wires at all. I need internet to plan my lessons in the room, because I haven't got internet in the office. "So internet is the most important thing?" she asked after I was out of breath from explaining. "YES". I'm not going to be able to stay in that room, let alone sleep there. I'd rather eat a bat, than live there. She said she would try to discuss with IT people to get internet there. Which might mean anything from "in a few days time" to "never". But I still don't want to work in there, with my frail mental health and my butt- ton of anxieties, I'm not really fit to stay in a place like that; a prison cell filled with ghosts. But Chinese people don't really think about that. She apologized for "this uncomfortable room" and said she will try her best to make it better. I just don't want to move anywhere right now, but I have no choice. They're tearing my room down. After I talked to her on the phone, I chose to get my suitcase back from that horrid room, having to enter it alone. I didn't want to leave anything in there. I turned on the yellow light in the bathroom, just to see what was there and instantly a dying fly came at me and clung to my backpack before it's tiny legs lost grip. "Nothing can live in here" I thought. My bags were covered in zombie- flies. I shook them off and slammed the door shut. "This is no place for me..."
I brought my heavy suitcase back up all the way to 708. I'm staying in my "five star" room at the moment. But probably not for long. Caroline said she'd call me when they start renovating. They're doing the entire 7th floor at once, so hopefully it'll be done soon. 50 days she said. But I know for sure I'm not living in that poor excuse for a room for that long. Preferably not at all. But I don't know what to do. I feel like it's a bit intruding to have to stay at Amanda's, it was a bit awkward when I had to stay there for one our before we left for dinner the night I locked myself out of my room. We both have a "pull-out" sofa. I have never checked to see if it actually works, but it's not something anyone would voluntarily sleep on. But I would much rather sleep on that than in the "bed" in that terrible place. Amanda told me she would help me out, she's going to talk to Caroline as soon as she sees her. She usually sees her a few times a week. But I doubt it'll help much. They probably can't do anything about it. I just wish that there's some other place I can stay, a place where I can live in peace for 50 days without being exposed to permanent emotional damage and being haunted by images of my vivid imagination. I'm thankful that I can sleep in my real room tonight, and have a shower (the death-room didn't even have a shower- but if it did I would have to shower right next to the squat toilet which looks like a gaping hole to hell) NO THANKS.
So instead of actually being productive this evening and finish my lesson plans, my evening was ruined by some foolish woman asking me to pack my stuff and move it to effin' Elm Street... I had to carry all my bags up and down the six flights of stairs- I don't know how many times... I still need to plan for 1st and 2nd Grade classes which I have tomorrow. But at least that's easier than the others. I'll have to plan for the rest tomorrow. It dawned on me that China sucks sometimes, but there are nice things too of course. I never usually get home sick, but for a few seconds this evening I desperately wished I was at home. In Norway. In my bed. Under the covers. Where. I'm. Safe. But that's also one of the reasons why I chose to come to China, to not feel safe. I don't mean to be in immediate danger or anything, just to be out of my numbing comfort zone. But I still don't want to sleep in a room where a lot of people may or may not have been brutally murdered.
I just feel miserable right now. Everything I did tonight was in vain, I didn't get anything out of it- except maybe nightmares for the rest of my life.
I wonder where tomorrow takes me.
Please, everyone at home; enjoy your beds, showers and tap water to the fullest. Think of me!
- Cecilie misses all of you