Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Things I'll Miss

After my last night in my small, hard bed in Shanghai (one of the things I will not miss), I’m starting to reflect on this past year as I finish packing up. There will be more of this in the weeks to come (I’m sure we’ll have a few things to say about reverse culture shock) as we get settled back into our lives in the U.S. But over the past month or so, I’ve had a running mental list of things I will and will not miss about our time here in Shanghai. Since I usually think of these things when I’m away from my computer (and alas – no smartphone here, another thing I will not miss), I haven’t been able to record all of them, but I thought I’d give you a sampling.

First, some things I’ll miss:
  • The sights (to list two just from a few days ago: a man doing work on an electrical wire while on a ladder (not touching the ground) held up by a man and a wire and a truck piled with Styrofoam - almost as high as said electrical wire – passing by that same spot that evening). Every day, I walk out of the house with the feeling that I could see just about anything.
  • Access to any kind of food I want, right out or at my front door. Shanghai is an amazingly cosmopolitan city. We can very easily go to a restaurant that serves almost any kind of food, and if we don’t feel like going out, we can use Sherpa’s to deliver it to our door.
  • Not having to drive home after eating out. It’s nice not to have to designate a driver when we go out to eat. That means both Doug and I can have a beer – together.
Now, for some things I won’t miss
  • The sights (to list two just from the same day as above: a baby pooping into a shopping bag just outside the grocery store – but still in the mall, and a discarded chicken foot on the floor of the metro)
  • Walking to the grocery store and then having to carry home groceries, particularly when it’s hotter than 80 degrees outside. Hot, humid, and sticky. And because you can only carry so many groceries, you’re faced with doing it all over again the next day.
  • Hanging laundry on a line in our apartment. Oh, how I long for a dryer.
  • The smells. Oh God – the smells. While many people talk about the wonderful fragrances of countries like Thailand and Vietnam, I don’t think China is often on that list. Because really – it very often smells nasty here.
  • The sidewalks. While the sidewalks are much more orderly in Shanghai than they are in other places (here, they’re mostly used for actual walking, except when there’s traffic, then all bets are off), they are also almost always very dirty, despite the fact that there are armies of cleaners out trying to work on that. We have a rule here - no stepping in water with no obvious source. It’s a rule that’s invoked pretty much daily.
  • The pushing, the shoving, and the general lack of order. The daily discourtesy really wears you down.
Right now, you can see that the list of things I won’t miss is generally longer than the list of things I will miss. I think that’s because we’re all just ready to be home at this point (although Berkley was crying this morning – sad to be leaving his friends from school). I know when we get home, the bad things will fade from memory, and we’ll mostly be left thinking about the good things. Most of all, I think what I’ll miss is the sense of possibility – that on any given day, we could see or do crazy things. Or that very easily, we could travel to a strange, foreign land to learn about a new people and culture. Obviously, we don’t plan to stop traveling now that our time here is done, but adventures will be a bit harder to come by now and will probably require a lot more planning. For now, I’ll take the sense of normalcy that awaits us back home, but you can be sure that it probably won’t be long before we’re planning our next family adventure.

1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine how you guys feel, I'm itching to get home a few days into a one WEEK vacation.