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Saturday, November 6, 2010

En cherchant Neige en Chine

Blogs come and blogs go. There’s nothing strange or worrisome in that, generally speaking. But when a friend vanishes without a trace, c'est inquiètant. It’s disturbing. So no, it isn’t snow-capped mountains I want to see in China, it’s the smiling face of a blogger whose life I used to follow on a daily basis, not the abstract “snows of yesterday” I seek but a young Chinese woman, a teacher of French, thoughtful, lively, outspoken, sensitive to earth’s beauties and literature’s mysteries. She blogged under the name Neige.

The first blog Neige wrote was blocked by the Chinese government shortly before the anniversary of the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. All access to Blogger sites were blocked, presumably because the government feared discussion of the historic event. Undaunted, the intrepid blogger (and it seems strange to describe her that way, as her blog was, in general, not at all political in nature but much more a personal vision of her everyday world) moved to another site. But you see what happens when you attempt to access the more recent blog: “La page demandée n’existe pas.” The page you asked for does not exist. Et alors? Où est-elle, la jeune femme charmante?

Neige blogged in French, I in English. When we commented on each other’s blogs, we used sometimes one language, sometimes the other. The other evening, watching a documentary on China, the sight of a canal through a Chinese town brought Neige to mind. She had completed her master’s in French, and the town where she had gone to teach had canals. I don’t remember its name. I don’t know hers. I do know that she had regular readers in France, in Canada and in the United States. I know that her birthday is December 25. I know that her smile brightened our days and that the images of her daily life were windows for us into another world. It brought that world to us as a friendly, inviting, neighborly kind of place.

Neige, I miss you. This post is a message in a bottle, flung into Lake Michigan in hopes it will find its way to the ocean and around the world to wherever you are. David sends greetings, too. Tu nous manques.

10 comments:

P. J. Grath said...

I sent an e-mail, not knowing if the address was still a good one. Got a reply very quickly! Am happy, happy, happy!

TQ said...

Very happy you found her! What a beautiful post. As soon as I finished reading it my immediate reaction was to start looking for her myself.

torchlakeviews said...

Well that was an astonishing sequence of events. Comforting, too. I think. Good to know it's getting harder to "disappear" a person.

P. J. Grath said...

The good news--well, there was lots of good news in her e-mail, but part of the good news is that no one was ever trying to "disappear" her. Ending her blog was entirely a personal decision. The bad news is that Blogger is still blocked in China, so Neige cannot visit Books in Northport.

P. J. Grath said...

The good news--well, there was lots of good news in her e-mail, but part of the good news is that no one was ever trying to "disappear" her. Ending her blog was entirely a personal decision. The bad news is that Blogger is still blocked in China, so Neige cannot visit Books in Northport. And that's really too bad, because if there was ever an ambassador of goodwill for her country, it would be Neige.

P. J. Grath said...

Here it is, the new blog of Neige:

http://neigeauprintemps.canalblog.com

I have also added it to my blog list. As I mentioned in the original post, Neige blogs in French, but if you look at her post from yesterday you will recognize my name, at least. It's so good to be reconnected!

Dawn said...

That is truly amazing. And wonderful! Makes me smile a lot. I need to try to find someone that lived with us for a year in the 70's. You give me hope that I can find her.

Dawn said...

I put it through a translator...I'm glad she was glad to be found by you!

P. J. Grath said...

I have a couple other people I’d like to try again to re-find, one a fellow student in graduate school, one from longer ago than that. Nothing ventured, nothing gained--and the possible gains are very great.

P. J. Grath said...

Dawn, sorry I missed your other comment until this evening--and then it took me a while to understand what you meant. I think I get it now: you put the text of her post through a translator into English? Yes, I see. It was interesting to me that she was so surprised that one of her readers would care so much about her disappearance. Eh, bien!