It is hard for me to believe that I’ve lived in China for nine years. For my kids, this is the only home they have ever known, but for me Beijing is one of many cities where I’ve hung my hat.
This summer, we made the pilgrimage to our native state of Oregon in the USA and to my hometown of Ashland where my parents still reside in the house I grew up in. The town of 20,000 has changed over the years, but the feeling of ease and tranquility has stayed the same. Our six-week trip was challenging due to the logistics of traveling with two toddlers, but we enjoyed the fresh air, green vistas, and time with family.
Although I’ve made the trek home nearly every summer that I’ve lived in China, this year the return to Beijing was different. My initial reaction on landing in the capital and driving to Wangjing was one of shock and loathing. It surprised me how visceral my feelings were and I actually had to remind myself to keep my mouth in check. It would be easy to find a slew of like-minded people ready to trash-talk Beijing, but to what end?
So after a week of being a bit of grump, I’ve gotten over my jetlag and am ardently trying to focus on the bright side of being back in the ‘Jing. I’m grateful for the support we get from our ayis with the kids, pleased that the skies have been mostly blue, and I cannot stress enough how much better the Chinese food is here. But mostly I’m glad to be back in the company of the many great friends we know here from all walks of life. Beijing holds a rich cultural heritage, but it is the people that make this city great.
Photos: Clay Gilliland (flickr)