Lights inside the concrete buildings’ windows lit up the industrial park like a Christmas tree. I drove over the bridge on my electric scooter. Below, cars moved east and west on Beijing’s fifth ring road. There was also a river. The same river I saw every morning.
Normally I couldn’t see a thing in the haze of pollution. But today it was clear. Crisp even.
I could see everything. I could see the river and the buildings and even the bridge in Shangdi which reminded me of the one back home, in Boston. The way it’s struts were long and almost string like, a cats cradle bridge.
I could even see beyond that. Farther away, in the west, where the foothills of Beijing lay. Where royalty had once journeyed in search of game, on hunting trips, or for a moment’s peace from the troubles of courtroom life.
My ears and fingers were rosy from the wind’s chill. But the air was fresh and I didn’t want to go home quite yet.
I was speaking Chinese again. I was back at my desk, spinning yarns once more. I was moving forward. At least, that is how it felt, in that moment, at that time.
The way the river looks, with the mountains in the background and the sun fading now. I bet people would love that, I thought to myself. I wanted to bottle that feeling up and keep it with me forever.
I descended the bridge and stopped my scooter on the road’s shoulder. I twisted around to see a flood of yellow and white lights, equidistant from each other. They slowly descended in parallel form, moving into the city’s interior.
I waited for them to pass and then drove down to the next traffic light where I could make a U-turn. Then I drove north, back towards the bridge, hoping to get a photograph of what I so quickly passed by.
As I approached the bridge from the south I could see the offices of the famous technology company, Xiaomi. It was just on the other side. Their offices were 10 or 15 stories high, lacquered red, almost orange, and you could see into their large glass pane windows from miles away. It looked warm inside.
It had been getting cold recently, but I didn’t feel the chill on my scooter. I knew it was there. I can even feel it now as I type these words. My fingers, slowly being thawing, warmed by my brains need for both dexterity in movement and thought while I try to explain this.
Back I went up the bridge. I stopped at a spot just before it crested. I liked the angle there. It looked as if you could take off into the stratosphere if you went fast enough. Leave this whole godforsaken city behind.
I planted two feet firmly on the pavement while my hands fiddled with my iPhone. I took my pictures quickly as the cars whizzed by. I had to be quick. After a few snaps I dropped the phone back inside my jacket pocket and gripped the handle bars. Then I was back into the stream, darting in and out of the spaces between cars to make my way towards the traffic light on the north side of the bridge.
I was nimble enough on my bike that I could navigate my way to the front before the light turned green. That was important for time. If you didn’t make it before the light changed, then you would have to wait a whole rotation before you could cross the street.
I headed south again. Back to the top of the bridge, but this time on the opposite side. I stopped over the river to take pictures of where the city faded out from urban clusters and became mountains, trees, and wild things.
I shot some using the pano feature. I think they came out ok, however I am still rubbish with the camera. The river looks nice though. Better in real life, but you get the idea.
Then it was dark out. Cars still drove by me, but faster now. People inside with their heat blasting, probably impatient to get home to their families. I rolled back my right hand on the scooter to accelerate into twilight’s fading gray.
Back inside my compound there was a rickshaw with a Chinese flag flapping in the wind. Grandparents walked with their grandchildren as the sun set. I rode my bike through the gates then across footpaths back towards my apartment.