September 4, 2008
A New Kind of Celebrity
In small town China, I was famous. I didn’t do anything to gain my celebrity; it was based purely on my white skin, oval eyes, and pearly whites. A day didn’t go by without someone stopping, pointing and staring. These days also included someone announcing that I was a ‘laowai!’- the reminder that I was a foreigner- that I looked different from everyone around me.
Now that I’m back in San Diego, I’m getting attention for an entirely different reason. The stares and pointing fingers have turned to waves and smiles. Why? Because I own a really cute bike. More specifically, a light yellow beach cruiser. The people of San Diego love it! Old men tell me about how they once had a bike like mine. Mechanics yell out “Nice ride!” and runners along Pacific Coast Highway wave and smile through heavy breathing.
I’ve tried to pinpoint the reason people feel the need to respond to a bicycle and I’ve concluded that it’s more than the bike. I make people feel good about living in San Diego. With high rent prices, high gas prices, and busy lives...a beach cruiser riding along the harbor with sailboats in the background makes people feel good. It doesn’t hurt that I’m smiling. I’m smiling because it’s 74 degrees, sunny, and I have the Pacific Ocean on one side and palm trees on the other. I’m smiling because the sky is a deep blue.
And I’m smiling because I met the postman of my new house and he ended our conversation with “Welcome to the ‘hood!” It’s good to be back.