There are endless reasons to visit Hangzhou’s Su Causeway. A stroll with a lake view. A walk through — or rather on — history (it was, after all, named for Su Dongpo, the Song Dynasty poet). A brief respite from city smog. Or even just to fawn over the lotus blooms that grace the lake in the summer.
You don’t go to see a bench. At least, you don’t — unless you’re John and I, a couple minted beside the shores of this breezy little lake just a little over a year ago, on one otherwise unspectacular bench.
“This is it, isn’t it, sweetie?” I asked, pointing to the bench closest to one of the causeway’s bridges — a bench that happened to hold an entire family, curious why John and I were ogling their chosen seat.
“Yes, it’s ‘our bench,'” John beamed. We had secretly christened it our own bench, with John often suggesting that we plant a tree nearby, to commemorate a love that grew right from this very spot.
At least, we could commemorate the spot itself, in photo. Even as other empty benches beckoned people to sit and enjoy them, we wanted only one. That is, if that family would help us.
“Excuse me,” I asked in Chinese. “Would you take our photo together, on this bench?” The family of three must have wondered why this bench, and why this foreigner — they looked as confused, as though I had just spoken English to them. But their son, trembling a bit, accepted my camera, and then they made room for John and I to capture this moment, on Su Causeway.
But sometimes, the moment captures you. John and lingered on in sentimental serenity, breathing in the place and its memories, and staring into each others eyes with the same romantic aspirations we had that summer. Unfortunately, we lingered a little too late — and I missed my planned train back to Shanghai.
The moment, however, was worth it.
How has sentimentality taken you on a journey — in China, or elsewhere?
Memoirs of a Yangxifu in China is the story of love, cultural understanding and eventual marriage between one American woman from the city and one Chinese man from the countryside. To read the full series to date, you can start at Chapter 1, or browse the Memoirs of a Yangxifu archives.