Dear Woman on the Great Wall,
You approached me already talking, with a smile I will never forget and a language I couldn’t understand. Perhaps you were ranting against tourists, but in a very friendly way. Then you took my arms in a warm grasp and continued with your words and that smile, lighting up the entire smog-wrapped mountain.
I remember your face: my age, with wrinkles from a smile you must carry with you always, and tanned from outdoors, kindhearted and full of humor. I laughed as you spoke, enjoying the moment, wishing I could understand your words, but not really needing them.
We had been in Beijing less than 24 hours, but in this moment, atop your Great Wall, my visit became complete. Perhaps you were telling me of your family, or a special way to prepare a traditional dish, or a secret of life for our gender, something women share worldwide. Although I could not understand what you spoke, I laughed all day at the way you spoke it, the strong grip of your arms, and the laughter in your voice. You gave me the only history lesson I will ever need of China.
I will spend some wonderful moments remembering the coincidence of you and me in the same spot at the same time. I thank you from the equally-wrinkled skin of my face to the travel-worn soles of my shoes. I don’t know you, Woman of the Great Wall, but I love you.
Forever Grateful – Marsha