I know it’s been a while since we met–almost a year to the date. I just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten the day I boarded that plane in L.A. and flew in the broken seat that refused to recline for 14 hours. Good times! On the positive side, the flight attendants were very accommodating and gave me first class treatment the whole way. Hello little Bailey’s Irish Cream minis!
The most thing I remember was the sheer terror of sitting in the LAX before leaving my family for 3 weeks while I explored another continent. I’m 41 years old and have never left the country before except for a brief Cancun excursion. This felt different, somehow. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that 7,000 miles away from my family and country is pretty far away.Because social media is considered a detrimental influence, all sites are blocked and the internet itself has to be accessed by ethernet and is iffy at best. I felt so cut off from my family and friends those 21 days.
I learned a lot about you, Shanghai. How many of your people cling to the culture of the old ways, and your young people yearn for all things western. I learned that democracy, whether welcome or unwelcome, is being discussed in your college classrooms as Western literature and thought creeps in along with our music and culture. Since the fresh college graduates represent the face of modern China, I’m interested to see how much their taste of Western influence will take them.
I learned that there’s something about sleeping 7,000 miles away from your husband that forces an untapped independence in you. I learned that being lost in a country with people who don’t speak your language causes you to slow down and use your primal logic. I learned that bonds that would normally take months to form grow at a more rapid pace when you’re in China for 3 weeks. In particular, one friend I met while drinking a cup of coffee at the L.A.X. before boarding the first plane to Shanghai extended unexpected kindness and comforting friendship over the days to come when difficulties arose. A bond so forged is too strong to fade over the course of a year. Rather, it becomes strengthened.
I learned that when East meets West, there’s no right or wrong answer. There’s no right or wrong way to do things. Only differences that, when appreciated, increase my understanding of the world and how it’s run, and the people who comprise it.
It was so nice to meet you Shanghai, and happy anniversary to you.