i've been back from china for a week now, so this post is long overdue. i always thought i would have a lot on my mind, hence a lot to write about after coming back from china, but this time, surprisingly, i don't. I suppose that's why i've put this off for so long.
This time going back to China did not produce the same effect as it did in me last year. Last year the trip was a whirlwind of love and pain so intense that it almost knocked me over. cheesy to say, and the gods of purple prose will hate me for this, but that is what it was. This year I went back with more nonchalance. more traveler's fatigue. less "visiting a former lover" bullshit. I think a lot of that has to do with the experiences i've had and the decisions i've made in the past year. first of all, i travelled so much in the past few months that the world has shrunken at an infinite level to me. i've always been a world traveler, but in the past few months i've taken it to the extreme. going somewhere far away was always just a mild deal for me, but now it is a tiny deal. I feel like any instant i could book myself a flight and step off in any part of the world i'd want to.
secondly, i've decided i will spend my next summer in beijing, that i will go study abroad in shanghai the fall of my senior year, and that i will go back to china to work after i graduate. In a sense these decisions have liberated me, because china is my home now. i don't have to go back with the feeling that i am clinging to a thread, because i know that my future will be there. In this version of the world, in which i have decided that i will eventually return to china, i am only temporarily abroad. I'm someone temporarily abroad right now honing the skills i will eventually need to help my country when i return home, and this trip is just a friendly visit back in between.
when i was on the plane back i was thinking to myself, in a large sense i went back to beijing in order to make sure the city was still mine. I wanted to see if i still knew it, and more importantly, if it still knew ME. In a twisted way I wanted to see if i still owned it, if it was still obedient, if the sky still behaved the way i expected it to, if the people still spoke in the same way, if the cab drivers still shared their lives with me with the same uninhibited ease. Because the thing that would scare me the most, sadden me the most, is if i were to feel that beijing was somehow slipping through my fingers. But thankfully, I was exhilerated to find out that yes, beijing was still my city. beijing IS still my city. whatever i wanted to find here, i found, and though i only stayed for a week, everything was perfect in this gritty, real, amazing way. it was so perfect that i was scared that something would go wrong, because things just can't be this perfect, can they? But they were. I shopped hard. I ate hard. and of course, i partied hard.
now i'm back. I was back a week ago. I admit i still went through a bit of post-china depression. a lot of it had to with the mundanity of life here in new york city. if you asked me a month ago, i would have never believed that i would ever describe life in new york as mundane. it certainly wasn't before i left. right before i left i was in the midst of some incredible drama, being torn left and right with feelings that i've now realized weren't really there or didn't matter that much at all. when i came back i took a knife to it all, basically. I wasn;t interested in it anymore. but i was bored. very, very bored. the past week has been one of the most boring weeks of my existence. i interned, i ate out a bit, i read a book. but nothing really happened. nothing made me feel much.
until today, i guess. today i moved. i got the ultimatum on friday, being a transition resident, that i had to move to my new place before tomorrow. My mum's in china, and all my friends were working, or out of town, so i had to take on everything myself. boxed everything up, bagged it, then started the long, tedious cab journeys down to chinatown. I won't lie to you. it was hell. every bit of it. i couldnt carry everything. i'm not exactly mrs fit and muscular. I had a lot of trouble. people stared. i kicked boxes. i was frustrated. i couldn't get a cab. traffic jams, unattended luggage, dropping things, struggling on stairs, through doors, all of it. I went four times today, back and forth. and i still need to go again tomorrow.
but something kept me through it all, something stopped me from bursting into tears at one point and cursing myself for beijing in new york alone and helpless. and i realized that in the most peculiar moments this city has a habit of reaching out to you. it's the new yorkers. they're wonderful. a woman stopped on the sidewalk and personally helped me get a cab. she then helped me put all my luggage in and gave me her blessings. a cab driver sweet talked a policeman into letting him drive through the barricades of a closed street so i wouldnt have to walk down a block with my impossibly large luggage. a fireman came out of his vehicle and helped me carry a box i had been rolling and kicking forward on a sidewalk. and they all did it with a smile.
i find it hard to believe that i am typing something this utterly cheesy, but it was real, it happened. those people totally brightened my day. though today was probably my most exhausting day, my most dreaded day since i came back from china, it was also a day that made me fall in love with the city again. like i've done so many times. and it also made me feel that it would be alright, living all the way down in chinatown, that i could make it work, even though i'm not in beijing and i'm not, in a real sense, "home." and more importantly, i think, it also excited me for all the days ahead, the full year that i have ahead of me in beijing, stretching out in front of me like-- this is strange, but i always think of the weekly layouts of my planner when i think about days, with about 7 or 8 lines allotted to every day in a small box. i imagine those pages flipping by very fast, with a whoosh. all penned in black and clotty in my terrible, haywire handwriting.
oh, the new school year. at the risk of sounding like the biggest nerd in the universe, fuck it, i'll say it. i can't fucking wait.