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THE Lowly Peon

Clean Air 
13 May 2011, 1:06am

It's funny — a few years ago, living at almost six thousand feet above sea level, I criticized Houston's air quality during my first visit to what would later become my home. Now, after living in China for the last several years, my feelings are quite different.

I'm sitting on my balcony right now, facing East, after the gods provided us temporary relief from the Texan heat with a heavy downpour of rain. The sun is setting behind my building, lighting up only the tops of buildings, much like the effect of sunset in Colorado on the Eastern side of the great Rockies.

The same rain in Eastern China would have made me feel constrained — the low clouds in China, brought so near above us because of the constant smog, made me feel as if I were in a small space. Here, after such a heavy rain, it seems the sky is endless.

I arrived in China during the overcast winter months, so it took me quite some time to distinguish between pollution and simply bad weather. But eventually, I learned it all too well. And whether it was my attempt to deceive myself or because I had grown accustomed to it, I slowly forgot what clean air is. My trips to the states would feel unrecognizably liberating, in a way I still can't describe or explain. And now, when I think of going back to China, or when I compare one place to the other, all I can think about is the general feeling of the air quality.

It feels good to be back.

(And hurry up, daisy! I miss you!)

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