Monday, July 28, 2008

Packing up

It's hard to believe that it's almost time to go. Friday Ethan and I are leaving our home in Qingdao. We'll head to Beijing first, than travel a bit in the south of China, and on down through Cambodia and Thailand, and then of course back up to Beijing for the Olympics (Ethan's gonna have the gory details up on his blog soon). I'm sitting among the piles of stuff that are waiting to be dealt with, packed up or given away - but I still can't quite get a handle on the fact that we're leaving. On the one hand, I'm ready to hit the road and do some traveling but I'm also feeling a little sad about leaving behind our life here. There are so many BIG things that I will miss. But, here's a list of the smaller things that have been rattling around in my head this week. In no particular order...

1. The old men. I just love the old men here. For one, now that it's hot out they all wear their shirts tucked up above their bellies. Oh, how I wish I had a picture of this to show you. And for two, here in China they spend their twilight years working out. Seeing septuagenarians idly stretching a wiry leg on a railing above their waist or doing humorless pelvic thrusts is just part of the summer park scene here. Is it wrong that this makes me smile?

2. Taidong and the tailor. With the help of a very patient tailor and various friends who have come with me to help me bargain and spend way too much time looking at pretty fabrics, I've been obsessed lately with getting clothing made. So far I'm toting back a wool winter jacket, two silk dresses, two silk tops, and a skirt. Pretty, pretty.

3. Smiles from strangers. Sometimes I get grumpy walking around Qingdao. People stare at me on the bus, random people shout, "hello?" at me like they're answering the phone - being anonymous is just not part of the deal living in China. However, as much as I get annoyed when I see a camera-phone pointed at me surreptitiously, I kind of respect the straightforward curiosity and delight in difference here. And on my better days when I remember to smile back, I love the recognition and connections that are made in these small moments with strangers.

4. Tsingdao Beer. It's light and summery and comes in a bag.

5. Green city. I'm looking forward to Beijing, the excitement of the Olympics and seeing some foreigners I like. But, the smog, congestion and general craziness scares me a little. After a couple of days I'll probably be mourning tranquil Qingdao. Our two favorite places to escape: Fu shan, a rugged little fang of a mountain that sits just behind our campus, and in the other direction, the yellow sea.

6. I Almost forgot! - Hand holding. There's a lot of PDA among friends here. Women, and sometimes even men, walk arm in arm or hand in hand , down the street. I've even seen some of my male students just holding hands in class. I love it.

Bye Qingdao!

1 comment:

Nancy said...

It all sounds wonderful, Lacey. I'll go back and visit with you some day!