The flat tones of the Sichuan dialect, so different from the civilized, rounded tones of Mandarin Chinese. Cigarette smoke that pools around my face as the men smoke. Toneless sky, so apocalyptic and hazy that the eyes ache for an intermission. The China of my growing-up was both caustic and brash and achingly, tenderly a place I loved. My uncle caring for his plants early in the morning, my grandmother’s look of concentration as she inspects her mahjong tiles, my cousin’s sharp tongue as she wrangles her kids—Sichuan women are spicy, don’t you know? The endless refilling of hot water bottles, tangerines individually wrapped and set out for guests, favorite foods—Coca-Cola red which means hot, hot, hot—prepared with a flourish.