I’d been thinking that I just need one bad China day to make it easier to go home. But I haven’t had one, Yangzhou was wonderful, minus that whole flooded bathroom thing, and my Shanghai girlcation has been filled with writing in beautiful coffeeshops down picturesque alleys and talking walks around a strange and beautiful city. I spent my last evening in Shanghai reading on my porch, and that was lovely, and I was just feeling so sad to leave my amazing Chinese summer.
On my last day, I woke up covered in mosquito bites, and the drizzle made the sprint across the courtyard to the bathroom much less fun. I gathered my things, and I got into a taxi, in the rain. After we drove for a while, the cabbie turned around, and help up one finger, and then two fingers, and then looked at me expectantly for an answer. I asked if we were still going to the airport. He held up the fingers again. I didn’t really get it… but fortunately for me, the cabbie got on the phone with his friend about a minute later, and started talking about the idiot foreigner who doesn’t even know which terminal she’s going to, even though he made it as easy as possible for her. So I figured out what the one and two were for that way. When we talk about learning Mandarin, we often talk about learning styles, people who learn well from conversation, people who learn written characters best, people who memorize HSK wordlists, and so forth. Overhearing other people calling me stupid is my least favorite way to learn.
Harold got a little phone charger/extra battery in a pile of TicketMaster swag a few months ago, and I brought it with me to Yangzhou, where it saved me several times from dead phone disaster. But when I changed planes in Beijing for my international flight, it appeared on the luggage X-ray unrecognized technology, so I found myself trying to explain what a harmless promo it is and why it’s not a security threat or am explosive or anything. Then I realized there weren’t too many situations in which arguing with Chinese customs over my unauthorized technology would work out well for me. So it was confiscated and I got on the plane.
Despite having flown through the Beijing airport literally a dozen times now, I forgot that there’s almost no food after security. Which is just as annoying the twelfth time as the first time.
This flight also included an American adoption group heading home with their new daughters. I loved seeing all those parents, completely in love with their adorable new daughters. And so many cute little babies! Of course, that means there was at least one little cutie screaming, sobbing or whimpering for the duration of the flight. I don’t think I really have a maternal instinct, but the physical horror of hearing babies cry for hour after exhausted hour… I wonder if there is something chemical in it, some kind of female hormone that makes it impossible to detach, relax, and fall sleep when there is a little one so upset nearby. Poor babies.
I rarely feel my age, and by that I mean that I’m excited and excitable, that I still see myself as a young adult, and also that I lack the maturity and responsibility one might expect to have by 30. But when I stay up all night, I’m reminded of my real age. I felt awful when I landed, because sleep is a thing, and when I don’t get it, I am cranky and old, and then I was in Newark, where they let me through customs with no trouble and then wouldn’t let me back through security because my ticket was in Chinese. So there’s that.
Actually, I’m pretty sure this is a bad airport day, not a bad China day.