Yesterday, I was fixing up my collection of Chinese music on iTunes. (Incidentally, the Android app SoundHound was astonishingly helpful in this, identifying most of my foreign-language songs on the first try!) Anyway, I came across a song titled “我叫小沈阳". This reminded me of my friend, 小沈, a guy from the Xiamen church choir (on the left).
He got on QQ later that night, so I started chatting with him. It had been a year since I’d last talked to him, probably, so I wasn’t sure if he would remember me. But he did, and asked if I was in China or the US. When I said I was at home on winter vacation, he reminded me that Xiamen is also home and said that I need to go back to visit soon. I asked him about my church friends, priest, and bishop over there, and he said that Fr. Jiang had been in the hospital a lot recently, but that he would be at midnight Mass the next day on Gulangyu. Then, he added, “But this year we won’t have any of those delicious cookies that you baked.”
Ah yes, the 300 cookies that I baked four at a time in my roommate’s tiny microwave oven.
I brought several batches to Midnight Mass that year to give to all my friends. Of course, I ended up giving them to a LOT of people that I didn’t know, too, which resulted in even more people around church knowing me (as if being the only foreigner wasn’t enough). When I left, there were people crying and shaking my hands and wishing me well who I would have sworn I’d never seen before in my life.
So yeah, I knew that the cookies were kind of a big deal, but I had no idea that they would be a prominent Christmas memory for a guy with whom I had had numerous interactions. Of all the shared memories we had, he brought that one up.
As we continued to reminisce, he brought up another friend, 传鹭, who I had not talked to since I left China (below, dressed as Santa).
I got his QQ number, though, and was able to catch up with him. Since it had been nearly a year and a half since I last saw him, I asked right away if he remembered me. His response? “Of course I remember you, you’re the one who baked the delicious cookies the Christmas before last.”
Clearly I underestimated the importance of a chocolate chip cookie, a mistake I will not make again. Baking for people who don’t own ovens is a powerful thing . . .