Travel Writing (Short Story): Lost in Chinatown

Lost in Chinatown

Lost in Chinatown 

(A Fiction)

By Allison Xu

I peered at my watch and hollered another reminder to my dad, who was still smoothing out his navy-blue shirt in front of our living room mirror. He was in his spotless beige khakis pants and new white Nike sneakers, totally dressed up for the annual Chinese New Year parade in D.C. When we finally got out the door, it was already around noon.

Our 30-minute drive to DC was pretty smooth, but as we arrived at the Chinatown square, we got stuck in an endless line of cars, having no place to park. My dad decided to drop me off a few blocks from the Chinatown parade so I didn’t have to miss the parade, while he would circle around for a parking spot.

I joined the swarm of people on the sidewalk, heading towards a bigger crowd where the blaring sound of cymbals, drums, and trumpets was from. I jostled through the crowd for a better view of the marching band, beauty pageants, and people in traditional opera costume and masks. Hosts and volunteers wore pig balloon hats and traditional Chinese outfits, big smiles plastered on their faces. The festive atmosphere raised my spirits, filling me with a sense of excitement.

Time passed in a flash before I realized I needed to contact my dad, who had obviously forgotten about me. I slipped out my phone only to find that the battery was dead.

“Oh no!” My excitement waned. I noticed the lady next to me was taking pictures with her iPhone, so I brazenly requested to borrow her phone to call my dad. Reluctantly, she handed me the phone.

“Pick up the phone, pick up the phone…” A voice chanted in my heart. No luck. His voicemail greeting popped out again and again.

The moment I handed the phone back to the lady my heart dropped. I stumbled through the hordes of people, neck stretched, eyes scanning. The once pleasant and festive chime of drums and cymbals became shrilling and irritating to my ears. Various worst-case scenarios flitted through my mind.

I could have been snuggling in the couch, sipping hot chocolate at home now; but instead, I was panting and shivering in the cold air, searching for my dad among numerous shoulders and backs.

“Look! Lion dance!” A voice screeched from the crowd, leading my eyes towards the center of the road. Several energetic “lions” made of white and red cloths and golden fringes, blinking their huge dark “eyes,” were swaying and twirling forward in the midst of the whistles and cheers of people. Pairs of legs were moving under the lions, sometimes bouncing, sometimes shuffling.

Of course I was in no mood to enjoy the lion dance, but when the tail of a lion approached me, my eyes were glued on the legs of the last dancer. Beige khakis pants and glaring white Nike shoes?!

I bet the phone tucked in his hip pocket saved at least five voicemails from me!