Dalian Time

At first, I did not think of the enjoyment I would get from Dalian time. 

My family is part of LiaoNing province, in the northeastern China. Growing up in a Dalian, a town in LiaoNing, I often heard my grandma talk about “Dalian Time.” When she was doing something she loved, whether it was making pancakes or watering flowers, she refused to be rushed. 

“ I am on Dalian time today,” she would say. Conversely, if we were running late for an appointment, she would chide us by saying, “Get a move on. We’re not running on Dalian time today, you know.” 

It was a difficult concept for me to grasp. My grandma tried to explain that “Dalian time” referred to those moments when time seemed to slow down or stand still. I remember that the meaning of her words started to sink in. One morning, my dog and I inadvertently slipped out of the world measured in seconds, minutes, and hours, and into one measured by curiosity and sensation. 

On the familiar trail near our house, I was walking my dog and thinking of the day ahead and the tasks I had to complete. Suddenly, my dog barked. There, two does and three fawns stood watching us. Five pairs of ears flicked like antennae seeking a signal. After a few moments, the deer lowered their heads and began to eat, as if they had decided we were harmless. By then, I was full of wonder. 

I spent the rest of the morning veering from the trail to investigate small snatches of life. Lizards lazing in the sun and quail rustling through grasses surprised me; wild blackberries melted on my tongues; the aroma of crushed leaves tingled in my noses. 

By the time I found my way back to home, the sun was high in the sky. I had taken three hours to complete a walk with my dog, which we usually finished in thirty minutes. Yet the walk felt shorter than ever. As we arrive home, I remembered something else my grandma used to say: 

“Miami time passes all to quickly.”

Emma E. Wellington