Double Blossom xx – October 2020
My obsession with full moons started early. I associate them with sitting in the back of our wood paneled station wagon coming home at night after a family outing, which was most likely to have been the closest Chinese restaurant we had, 40 minutes away in the next state.
My little brother and sister doze off to the lull of the moving car and my other brother and father murmur in the background about shared common interests like numbers and go game strategies. My mother is lost in thought and so am I. Staring up into the bright light of the full moon, I imagine. I am sure that somewhere around the world I have a doppelgänger. Someone that looks just like me; wearing the same clothes, doing the same things and thinking the same thoughts. She is out there somewhere and I am convinced that if I can somehow get myself to the moon, I can meet her because she is there, floating hand in hand with Neil Armstrong.
October is the month when the Chinese celebrate the full moon with the Mid-Autumn Festival; my personal favourite way of marking the passing seasons. My ancestors keep me company as a google search says that moon worship began over 3,000 years. Eating sweet mooncakes in the warm glow of lit lanterns reminds me of when my mother first introduced me to the round sweet pastries filled with lotus paste and salted egg yolk in the centre. She broke it apart gently, letting the sticky paste and pastry crumbs flake to the sides while keeping the egg yolk intact to show me the full moon. Slightly too large for an individual portion, the mooncakes are often cut into quarters before being passed around. While it hurts my sensibilities to see the wholesome fullness of the moon cut apart, I am comforted by the fact that it means we can share the moon’s goodness.
This photo was taken in Taiwan when I was ten and we lived there for six months. It’s autumn and I am wearing my beloved poncho and round rimmed, John Lennon inspired glasses. I am followed by my brother, Timothy, and a family friend. We are leaving a restaurant and walking through a Moon Gate, a classic Chinese architectural representation of the moon. The photo below shows us on the same day outside a walled city. I love the orange banners with the black calligraphy because it reminds me of Halloween, another celebration we observed in October but in our Western world.
As I look at these two photos, I can’t help but wonder what my doppelgänger would have made of the poncho and glasses. Maybe that’s why she never met me on the moon?
“May the bright Mid-Autumn moon illuminate your every journey and accompany you with sweet happiness.” Chinese proverb.
Lots of love. Xtine
The above post is part of Double Blossom xx, an Instagram project I started with photographer Christina Wilson Elms during lockdown. Each week we post a photo of ourselves and write a letter to the other on an agreed theme. If you are interested in reading our stories, you can find us on Instagram at Double Blossom xx — Two London sistas share stories about being Chinese in the UK and the US. Same age, same name; almost.