After our awesome Beijing adventures, we sent Jeff home. Did you catch that? I said we, because Fresca has extended her trip for another two weeks as she tries to decide whether and when to teach here!
Jeff and I are the farthest points in Meg, Stick, Fresca, Jeff constellation, and I really didn’t know him before the trip. Everyday I found out something new about Jeff’s life and his veiws. It was kind of like meeting a new friend, only he’s the kind of new friend who comes prescreened by Stick and Fresca, and brings me tampons in a semi-developed nation.
Fresca and Jeff are good travelers. They accepted the staring and photo-taking with good grace, they visited my classes and talked basketball with my boys, ate mystery dishes without too many questions. They dealt with the 17-hour train ride and the cramped buses and total lack of any kind of reservation or advance planning in China! The only sucky thing about traveling with them is that I’m constantly missing the simple pleasure of using the first person plural. It’s been a long time since I could say “We were talking last night, and…” or “We thought that movie was a little long-winded.” Every day that I’m here is exciting and interesting, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m unhappy, but I really miss being part of a couple, specifically the cartography-challenged half of No Sense Of Direction Girl and Never Plans Ahead Boy.
We’re all in the airport at the end of Jeff’s trip, and I spot a certain self-important assistant headmistress from one of the middle schools where I teach… quick sidenote, I only know about a hundred people in a country of 1.4 billion. How can I possibly run into people I don’t want to see? It’s just not statistically possible!!! I try to dodge so that Jeff and Fresca don’t have their goodbyes interrupted by a repetitive lecture on the failures of the American educational system when compared to the hallmark of perfection that is Number 3 middle school.
I wander off to get us some drinks. Jeff, you see, likes pineapple, grapefruit and orange juice, in that order. And Fresca and I become a lot more sociable and friendly and um, human after what passes for coffee here. At the airport shop, I order in, well, if not flawless Chinese, at least understandable Chinese. I even asked for powdered milk and sugar and a wrist bag for Jeff’s bottle of orange juice.
I walked back to them, holding the two hot and lidless coffees and watching my two friends prepare to be split across the globe.
The trick is, if you don’t look down, you won’t spill.