The days are ticking down for my Comeback Tour of the USA, or rather Tennessee, though that sounds less dramatic. My date of departure is exactly one month and one day from now, and the need to purchase a plane ticket grows more pressing. I hate spending half of my paycheck on a ticket, though of course it’s worth every penny.
I have a whole two and a half weeks off of work, but my time in the states will be about two weeks, or barely over, since I need to allot a few days for travel and maybe a day to pretend I’ll recover from the jet lag before heading to work again.
It’s not enough time, not enough. It’s going to be a crazy blur of dear faces: all the fam, and the Cleveland Crew too, and Sarah and hopefully Emily. Everyone’s going to converge on Cleveland–literally, everyone. Amy and Simon from England, Amber, Isabel from Philly. OK, not exactly everyone. Brett won’t be there. And probably not Nathanael. But all the girlies will be there, and there won’t be nearly enough time with each and all of them.
I’m attempting to relinquish expectations–to know and accept in advance that everything won’t be perfect, that even though I want to cram Ocoee picnics and trips to Chattanooga and 100 perfect brunches, lunches, and dinners at the French mansion into five days, it’s impossible. I’m sure we can fit at least one Ocoee trip, multiple Ooltewah runs, and a Chatt ramble in there, but not everyone will be there for everything. Amber can only steal away for the weekend. How can we run, go for evening walks, sit in Rembrahndts (I never know how to spell that place’s damn name), go for Bistro martinis, fix brunch, and dinners, all in a weekend?
I don’t know, but dammit, we’ll do our best.
Beijing is grey, grey, grey* outside, but I don’t mind.
*Unrelated aside: is “grey” a British spelling? If so, it’s wildly inconsistent of me to prefer it to “gray,” but I do. It’s much prettier and more poetic. But every other British spelling annoys me–not really when an English person spells; what else would they do but spell Englishly? Yet seeing them fills me with impatience; I feel like the extra letters are cobwebs I want to sweep away.
I like grey days because I can lounge about with my coffee, in my PJ pants until well past appropriate hours, and I don’t feel bad about wasting golden sunlit hours indoors. I also like rain, a lot. I miss it.
I was telling a student that I miss houses wherein you know what’s happening outside–I miss pushing the windows open in a heavy rain, and smelling the wet ground and hearing the rushing stampede of drops. I miss loud thunderstorms and dewy dawns and sunlit afternoons, not so much because Beijing doesn’t have them, but because if you’re inside, you wouldn’t know.
At least in my apartment, it’s hard to be connected with outside. The living room has windows, but those open into the enclosed balcony. If you want to feel a breeze, you have to open two sets of windows to feel it wafting in.
Despite the disconnect from rain, wind, and sunshine (which is an unfortunate series of disconnections, indeed) I do really like Beijing. I’ve decided. If you’ve been following the infrequent string of posts since I’ve begun this blog, you might feel skeptical. A recurring theme seems to be me trying to convince myself I really like it.
Sometimes in the past eight and a half months, I haven’t liked it at all. Sometimes the dust, the wind, the bitter winters, the architectural ugliness, have left me feeling restless for countryside and cool, clean American cities in the Pacific northwest.
And who knows, one day I might move to one. I’ve wanted to see Seattle and Portland and Vancouver for awhile now, from a combination of Douglas Coupland books, Grey’s Anatomy, and reading food blogs from foodies residing there.
I have a tendency towards perpetual restlessness, but I might trade it in, sometime, for a small, tidy apartment with big windows near the Pacific, and a kitchen with large oven.
Not yet, though. Not yet. Now I’m in Beijing, and I like it here. I like dabbling in Chinese, I like the wide flat traffic-clogged streets lined with freshly green trees. I like the restaurants and some of the bars and the promise of venturing through the rest of China one day (Tibet, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hong Kong, Shanghai), with Beijing as a comfortable, known hub to come back to.
My wanderlust isn’t satisfied yet. It probably never will be, but even though I could suppress it for a king-sized oven, today isn’t that day.