Beijing: Take One
It never occurred to me that I would spend so much time in a car–any car–and in places a GPS has to think twice about pinpointing. I’m just not suited to this. I get carsick. I live in a perpetual state of anxiety. And I hate not knowing what comes next. I’ve done a lot of things in life because I didn’t think carefully enough beforehand, didn’t know to turn tail and run. When I’m in trouble, I rue this major defect in my character. Once I’m out of trouble, I thank goodness for my ability to use fantasy to pull me into escapades for which I’m utterly unsuited. Without that ability, what follows could never have happened.
We’ve barely set foot in China, and already I’m feeling the familiar twinge of panic that I might get lost. Knowing how to find my way is a skill of more than ordinary importance to me. In a matter of days, we’ll be idling at the Great Wall in a seventy-year-old vehicle and waiting for a checkered flag to wave downward, releasing us on a 7,800-mile car race to Place Vendome in Paris. My husband Bernard will be driving. And for the next thirty-five days, I’ll be telling him where to go.