Last night I went to my dancing-with-the-aunties exercise class for the last time. The typhoon kept 2/3 of the class at home, so only a dedicated few were there to dance to American club music from the 1990s and then stretch to piano concertos, give me hugs and take some silly photos.
Topics of conversation while we did our exercises included what Laoshi’s mother should be fed to keep her from losing weight in her old age,
Ensure and chicken bouillon
what people think about retirement homes,
It’s agreed that retirement homes sound like fun – your own room, TV, and fridge and clubs to join and activities like knitting classes.
the best age at which to have children,
My age, apparently. =o
what the greatest inconvenience of having children is,
Laoshi said that milk powder is too expensive, but another woman reminded her that kids don’t need milk powder for as many years as they need to go to school.
about how some children are born owing you something from a previous life and how others are born with you owing them something, and that Laoshi thinks maybe she hadn’t made enough incense offerings in a previous life so she’s saddled with taking care of her grandchildren in this one,
An alternate theory proposed is that she actually is being blessed with having a full house with children and grandchildren to cheer her in her older age, and that any life happening can be turned into a better interpretation.
and whether or not LA is anywhere near Chicago.
You can probably see that nobody particularly takes this class seriously. Its effect on my fitness level has been minimal, but going isn’t about that.
I’ll miss rolling my eyes along with the mirror’s reflection of the woman in purple when we both notice Laoshi losing count as she gets distracted by talking about what she saw on the news or giving advice or complaining about kids these days. I’ll miss the bizarre results that these exercises are supposed to bring about (Keep you from going bald! Shrink your appetite! Help your memory!). I may get in better shape with a yoga or pilates class back in Chicago, but I probably won’t have as much fun.
It sounds kind of ridiculous, but I think I fulfilled the purpose of the Fulbright grant most of all this year through joining this class. I became part of a neighborhood. I made friends. Sometimes we compared how things are in Taiwan versus how they are in America. For all its zaniness, for all that I could barely keep my face straight through sometimes, those two hours every week with a group of accepting, friendly women has been really important to me.