My bags were packed and at the door. We were set to depart at 9:30am and it was now 7:30am. My clothes were laid out like the first day of school. I started to get dressed, clothes on fleek, trying to figure out why my dad was sitting on his bed folding clothes. “Daddy what are you doing? It’s time to go!”
“Uh, you do know we don’t leave until tomorrow morning right?” my dad said.
“No, you’re not about to make me miss this flight,” I thought to myself. So I went to double check the itinerary again for the 1000th time. “Oh wow, we do leave tomorrow!” I laughed out loud and told myself, “Okay, you need to calm down and get yo’ life” (in my Tamar voice). God knew that I needed this extra day.
Fast forward to us arriving in China. It was completely different from what we expected – in a good way! We went to the Canton Fair, China’s largest import/export fair which boasts over 100,000 visitors from all over the world. We were at the largest “business meeting” in the world and in this country where all of the magic happens! Yes! “She” was excited! I couldn’t have asked for a better business opportunity. We probably shook hands with someone from every continent in the world.
I also enjoyed making the following observations: The dollar had a strong exchange rate in China. We were on “baller status”.
- Public toilets were in the ground, literally. I had the joy of figuring that out while wearing a one-piece jumper.
- Rice and soy sauce on my omelets were tasty.
- The tall buildings, lights, and huge crowds reminded me of Las Vegas. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
- The mall was six floors of heaven!
- Several locals mistook me for Kelly Rowland. It was crazy because I tried to explain to them repeatedly that I was not Kelly. They continued to take pictures of me anyway. Hilarious!
- In crowds, people there were unfazed by being bumped. It was understood that it was a mistake and they continued on to where they were headed with no incident. That spoke volumes to me.
There was also a more personal observation, one that only involved me and my dad. The thing is, as an artist and entrepreneur, I sometimes get extremely sensitive about my work. At one point, I began to build a wall between me and my dad, mainly because I felt as though he wasn’t supportive enough of my goals and dreams. Maybe I could blame it on having the middle child syndrome. I think not. As kids in a two-parent household, we sometimes find ways to blame our problems on dad. He plays the role of both the provider and the fall guy. This trip changed that.
Our journey to China together was more than just a journey of exploring endless business opportunities. It was healing for our father/daughter relationship as well. We spent time together talking, laughing and experiencing a whole new way of life. My dad had never been easy to understand, and I never got why he worked as hard as he did; or why his words of wisdom were a bit harsh at times (especially for my extra sensitive self). However, he took me across the world and showed me that nothing is impossible. He invested not only in my business, but he invested in the fire inside of me. He showed me that with ambition, will power, and confidence, I can do anything. I met people with strong work ethic and hunger for more out of life, which inspired me. I fully enjoyed my experience in China – from the dragon fruit, to the Yuan cab rides across the city, the skyscrapers on every corner, and the lights; even the view of the smog-filled sky line from my 50th floor hotel room.
It was a joyous experience, however, nothing, and I do mean nothing, can compare to the joy I experienced while sharing all of this with my father. He’s the man I look up to; the man who I watched as a child build business after business and take loss after loss, all to support his family. The man who instilled that “hustle” mentality in me to take on the world, literally.
In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to say, “Thank you daddy, you rock! I plan to make you very proud. And next time we go to China, I’ll take my wallet.”
Words: Jas’mon T. Watson