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Memories of my American classmates

  Buffalo, the second largest city in New York State, is like many American cities that have not survived the tide of industrial decline. The most historic old city is unrenovated and is home to homeless people and drug addicts; most of the middle class gathers there. On the outskirts of the city, the residential area extends to Niagara Falls, where Lake Erie and the United States and Canada border. Buffalo is covered by heavy snow for 5 months each year. When I got up in the morning and opened the curtains, I could only see the series of footprints left by the dog walkers on the snow, but no people. Summer is also very short, only enough to camp two or three times, and then it comes to late autumn.
  When I was studying in Buffalo, I chose a relatively unpopular social science major. There were very few Chinese in the department. I basically lived a life of a library and a dormitory. Even though life is so closed-loop, I still met two Americans.
The “Three Swordsmen” in graduate school

  One girl D, one boy B. At the welcome party for freshmen at the beginning of school, D was the first person to come over and greet me. She is a little fat, and she has a lot of sunburn on her face and arms. When I arrived at the second year of the graduate school, I would go to her house to play almost every Friday night.

D’s band at the wedding venue

  D is the eldest daughter of the family, and her younger brother has a rather weird personality, so she is used to the role of taking care of others. With her encouragement, I gradually gained the courage to fight for internship opportunities for myself and participate in large-scale work social meetings. D is optimistic by nature, values ​​her family, and is a typical middle-class girl.
  And I’m introverted and anxious, and I don’t understand why she makes friends with someone so boring like me. When meeting D’s other friends, I was always afraid that I would be too clumsy and would embarrass her. However, whenever the party came to an end, other people left one after another, D left me at home overnight, the time between us became slow and quiet. She was swiping her phone and reading two jokes on Twitter from time to time, while I just sat on the sofa and acted as a listener.
  In contrast, I can always see myself in the body of another American B. B is the smartest and most eloquent student in the class, but he lives in a low-key manner. He neither finds a girlfriend nor socializes with great fanfare. He even quietly opened a small website for entrepreneurship. When I was chatting, I heard B talk about his personal affairs. I often suspected that he made up these words in order to hide his true experience. From this point of view, B is not a typical American.
  Only once I invited him to eat at home, and said that his roommates are all Chinese, and there are no knives and forks at home. After B came, he didn’t say a word. He just held up a plastic preservation bag and shook it as if showing off, which contained all the sets of knives and forks he had brought from home, making a ping-pong-pong-pong sound. He has a younger sister, but the two get along more like friends.
  After graduation, I learned that B’s father was bedridden all the year round and needed care, which made him seem more necessary to remain mysterious. D and B often quarrel sharply, or tell me secret gossip about their family and friends. In the two years I first met them, I always thought, as a foreigner, how lucky I was to hear these words from two people with different skin colors. Or in other words, there is nothing new in the world, we are just speaking the same thing in different languages.
Friendship after graduation

  After graduating from Buffalo, I went to New York and then to Beijing. B stayed at home to help take care of his father, and D also went to Chicago, not far from his parents’ home. Now it seems that even though our identity determines that we are on different paths, we all end up in the same way by different routes.
  Two years later, I saw D again in Chicago. She and her boyfriend had just gone through a difficult parting period and finally moved in together as she wished. In the evening she drove me to the city for dinner, and suddenly complained to me that the two have been together for 7 years, but her boyfriend has not yet proposed marriage. I couldn’t think of how to comfort her for a while, so I changed the subject and talked about all the things I encountered in Beijing. On the day before leaving, she sent her boyfriend to drive me to the airport. I tactfully told D’s boyfriend in the car that we Chinese have an old saying, “After passing this village, there will be no such shop.” Can you understand? Her boyfriend nodded vaguely.

  As a foreigner, I was fortunate enough to hear these words from two people with different skin colors.

D’s wedding venue

  In the spring of the next year, D sent me a private message on Facebook, saying that her boyfriend had proposed marriage. He gave him the ring when they were parachuting in a helicopter. Her brother finally settled down, became a family, and stopped playing nonsense. I feel very happy. It is not that a Chinese motto has mysterious power, but to a certain extent, I can finally return her consistent goodwill.
  The reunion with B took longer. It was not until four years after graduation that we met again at D’s wedding. After nearly 10 years of long-distance love running, D and his fiancé returned to their home town, used all their savings from work, and held an American wedding that couldn’t be more traditional. In order to participate on time, I had to get off the plane in Chicago and transfer to two buses to reach D’s hometown.
  The night I first arrived, I felt very uncomfortable, but D and his fiancé were busy greeting relatives and friends, and I was too embarrassed to keep looking to her for renewal, so I could only help move materials. When B arrived the next morning, I was no longer so innocent. At breakfast, B asked if he wanted to go shopping in his car. I thought it was a little strange, but I still agreed. After arriving at the supermarket, B said very bluntly that he forgot to bring shaving cream and must buy it before the wedding. I complained that this is really a request that only a classmate can accept, while helping him look at his clothes outside the bathroom.
  Participate in the ceremony in the church, where everyone sang hymns and received the holy bread. I am not a believer, ask B what should I do. B said, as long as you sit still, no one will blame it. So I obediently did it. Until now, I still remember the tolerance contained in B words. As long as I am a silent observer, I am respectful enough.
  After the ceremony, D arranged a 10-hour wedding party. There were 50 relatives and friends of both D and her husband, and they danced until one o’clock in the morning. B and I were arranged at the table of relatives and friends closest to the dance floor, but neither of us was interested in dancing. After midnight, I felt like I had watched a movie and was driven onto an empty street. The excitement is gone, I asked D: From tomorrow on, you will be Mrs. So and so, how do you feel? D rolled his eyes and said, now he just wants to go home and sleep. She woke up and put on makeup since 6 in the morning that day, and hardly ate anything.

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