All good things must come to an end. Actually, I don't think that's true. But in this case it's true. Unless an extraordinary, unexpected turn of events happens in the next few hours, I will be leaving China very shortly.
Even though I've been here for almost five months, I still feel like I hardly know the place, the culture or the language. China is still mysterious to me. But I suppose that's what makes it attractive. I can still go walking on the streets filled with a sense of expectation, curiosity, and wonder. As much as China has become "westernized," it is still rich with culture and unordinariness -- ordinary to them, for sure, but peculiar and interesting to my me-focused eyes.
I'm going to miss many things.
I will miss the people.
I will miss the buildings.
I will miss the non-Chinese people.
I will miss the streets and shops.
I will miss fighting crime with my friends.
And there are a hundred other things I will miss. Of course, there are also things I won't miss. I won't miss getting my hair butchered by the barber because I can't speak correctly to him. I won't miss the sound of jackhammers everywhere I walk. I won't miss the smell of pollution in the morning.
But then again, anything worthwhile is never easy. I feel like this is the place to insert a Lord of the Rings quote as Sam and Frodo talk about adventure and facing hardships, but I can't think of one. Imagine I did and that it was profound.
Now I have the task of returning home and processing what I've experienced. That shouldn't be too hard, as I have many friends and family who will keep my memory jogging.
Before I leave, though, I want to share one last story that has been on my mind a lot and still makes me laugh. When I was in Shenzhen (see last post), I was riding in the car with my friend Yuwei and his family. We started talking about English songs. They said they knew very few. But Yuwei's dad knew at least one.
All of a sudden, he started singing Jingle Bells. After the the first "jingle bells" the whole family immediately jumped in. Yuwei's parents can hardly speak English. There they were, happy as could be, singing Jingle Bells in broken English at the top of their lungs. I couldn't stop laughing because all I could think about was this famous scene from A Christmas Story. They get to Jingle Bells about 50 seconds in.
Those are the kinds of memories that will stick the most. Priceless.
Thanks for following me on my trip!