I flew from Tokyo to Beijing on Tuesday and had a more-interesting-than-one-wants taxi ride from the airport to Red Gate Gallery and Bei Gao Studios near the 4th ring. My friends Rayna and Nick are doing their artist-in-residency program, and I was spending a couple of down-days with them, hanging out in Beijing.
Did I mention that I’d never met Rayna and Nick before?
Did I mention that Rayna is Mira’s daughter?
Fortunately, we all got along great, and it was a really fun couple of days. I arrived around 11pm, and we were all hungry, so Rayna and Nick took me to a little family-run restaurant around the corner from their studios. It was so low-key and casual (Nick actually had to go fetch our beers out of their storage area) I had to ask: were they sure it was really a restaurant and not just a family who was too polite to tell them to stop sitting on their patio, who figured they might as well sell their leftovers to the clueless round-eyes?
My question drew a long pause and a pair of sheepish grins. Then one of them remembered having seen a menu a while back.
If it wasn’t a restaurant, it sure should been—the food was great! We gobbled down three dishes and shared a few beers, and then we went back to their studio and hung out talking into the wee hours about art, making art, and all the usual conundrums about being artists.
I think it was 3:30 in the morning when we realized that bedtime had come and gone, and the next thing I realized was that I still needed to make a Kaddish. I was way too tired to attempt reading the text, and I was way too shy to attempt singing it in front of N and R, so I played it on the Virtual Piano app of my iPhone instead. It has a tiny little one-octave keyboard, so I had to keep switching out the octave, which made the melody sound so strange, I had a rather severe memory slip. Stumped, I detoured to the final phrase.