Over and Almost Out

SmileI’m flying home in one week. That means my two years in China are nearly up, and so you all must be chomping at the bit to know what my highs and lows are, top-ten style. Well, okay. Here, then, a dual list: things I will miss and things I will not. (This may become a short series, but I’ll stick with ten for tonight.)

Things I Will Not Miss
1. Grandmas constantly scolding and chastising me for my parenting decisions, from warmth of clothing to choice of snacks to leniency in allowing my child to do things on his own
2. Going into a clothing store and realizing that I am the completely wrong size, shape, dimension, and height for every item (including shoes)
3. Young women in thigh-skimming dresses and shorts in summertime and thin tights over short-shorts in wintertime; I’ve seen way more than my share of unclothed ass-cheeks in the past two years
4. Breathing in other people’s cigarettes all day long
5. Relying on cabs in a city where there are far more people wanting cabs than there are cabs; also, lack of seatbelts
6. Standing out; being interesting solely because of my white skin; attracting attention while grocery shopping or taking my kid to the park or getting money from the ATM
7. The after-effects and material composition of Chinese food; constantly worrying about food safety
8. Blocked Internet
9. Constantly being told by strangers that my kid is cute.
10. Waking up every morning, looking out the window, and thinking, “I wonder when the sky will be blue again.”

Things I Will Miss
1. Grandmas and grandpas toting around young kids with all the indefatigable energy of 25-year-olds
2. Wearing the same outfit a few days in a row and not getting weird looks
3. Lovely young women’s complete lack of self-consciousness in regards to spitting, burping, and publicly devouring unbelievably unhealthy street food
4. [No positive counterpart to this one]
Hangzhou, 2012.5. Chatting with cab drivers while they slurp liter plastic bottles half-filled with soggy green tea leaves; watching them run out of the cab at a red light to refill their hot water from a thermos in the trunk
6. The mostly-innocent queries and comments among bystanders as I do my boring tasks: “Which country?” “Does she understand Chinese?” “It is raining, but she is not carrying an umbrella.” “Her shoes are red.” “Wow, her child is a little fat. I wonder if it is a boy or a girl, and how old it is.” “She does not understand what we are saying. Ha! Ha! Ha!”
7. Muslim hand-cut noodles; the taste of Chinese food
8. Hearing people talking about the news every day (in a limited scope, based on the Making friends. Gansu, 2011.limited information they are able to access) and trying to answer their questions, for example, “People in America use guns to kill each other a lot. In China we do not have this problem. Why?”
9. Constantly being told by strangers that my kid is cute.
10. Waking up every morning, looking out the window, and thinking, “I wonder what will happen today.”

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2 Comments

Filed under Life in the Bike Lane

2 responses to “Over and Almost Out

  1. Jean

    What a journey you have had–experiences that many can never even dream of. And many of us would find it difficult to be away from familiar things, culture, etc. I commend you on your bravery and sense of adventure to have lasted for two years. Kudos!
    Aunt Jean (I think I am your aunt–still get confused on this issue)

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