When I was younger, I used to close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to live in China. Using Google Images to look at pictures simply wasn't on my mind ( did it even exist in the mid-90's?)-- my imagination, however, was active. In my mind, I could see dirt roads, brick and concrete buildings, children playing in the streets, and the sun-- I very distinctly felt the sunlight on my skin. I imagined a place where life could slow down, a place where even the hands on the clock were permitted to take a break. Calm, quiet, serene. This was the way in which I allowed myself to relax.
As I got older, I stopped taking the time to find my quiet place. You can only imagine how surprised I was, then, when I found myself in the middle of a beautiful area of China that distinctly resembled my dreamland. Walking down streets I had never physically been to before, a feeling of nostalgia began to stir inside of me.
This kind of nostalgia, the kind I experienced, is the kind you get when you visit a friend and they are baking something that smells exactly like your grandma's kitchen always smelled, and the smell overwhelms you with memories. This is the kind of nostalgia you get when you randomly hear a song on the radio that, "takes you back" to a point in your younger days when you were surrounded by friends and laughing unreasonably hard over something trivial. This is that nostalgic feeling that comes when reviewing a lifetime of experiences with distinct satisfaction and a hint of joy.
Two very wonderful friends of mine took me on a walking tour of what used to be downtown Dongguan. It was there that I found the China I used to dream of: