Feb 19, 2012

bus rides, thankfulness, and mashed potatoes where they shouldn't be.

I've been really contemplative/day-dreamy these past few days.

I'm just really thankful to be me and have this random, awesome life. I think it's good to like being yourself. You should like being yourself, too.

School started this week. Having a new major and advisor has given me a new pep in my step.

I'm happy. Not the, "bunnies and butterflies," happy - life's too hard here for that kind of energetic happiness, but rather the happy that comes from contentment. Burdens have been lifted from my shoulders. I don't have dread in my life and I don't question my decision to remain in a Chin.ese university. Even my closest friends have noticed a change in me - which prompts me to reflect on how change is necessary if someone is unhappy. I'm proud of myself for not quitting the 80000 times that I wanted to over the past 1.5 years. I'm also proud of myself for sticking up for myself. Because I can see the fog clearing, and it's gonna be alright. Hard, but alright.

I knew all along that this was my path - to be here in these classes and know these people. But I didn't want it to be. I was borderline angry that this was my calling. I knew this was my journey and my adventure to be had, but I just wanted to go home and have a nice life going to a big church full of like-minded people and join e-harmony and get married to a wholesome, native-English speaker and make babies and drive a car and have central heating in my carpeted house with a park nearby.

Briefly, I wanted those things. Actually, I still do. In due time.

But for now, I am so happy to be me, here.

Today I was standing in craaaaazy weekend afternoon traffic trying to find a taxi to meet an old friend for coffee on his birthday. I saw 3 foreign guys looking over at me and just figured they also wanted a taxi. I whipped out my phone to tell my friend I was running late, and I heard the boys talking. "Well, she has an iphone, she must speak English..." I overheard while stifling a giggle at their rationale.

They approached me, looking like fresh arrivals with glimmers of bewilderment in their eyes. "Do you speak English?" one asked. I just nodded. I was trying so hard not to laugh.

"How do you get to West Lake?" he asked, "What do we tell a taxi driver?"

Oh, those sweet precious boys. West Lake is the largest tourist attraction in Hangzhou and our university is literally 500 meters from it. But to get to the "nicer" parts, you take a bus. I saw the bus arriving and knew that it would also take me to my destination, so I suggested that we go together.

Me and the gang of three who have been in Chi.na all of one week piled into the bus and shared stories. They are from Philly, Chicago, and Australia and all ended up here on scholarships from their schools back home. They are hoping to learn Chin.ese to make it big in the business world - a smart plan. I told them places to eat, shop, meet Chi.nese people, get massages, and have a foreign beer, and they wrote down my info in their phones. I felt...old, established, happy to help, and...native.

We exited the bus together and I pointed them in the direction of the West Lake park. As we parted and I walked alone to meet my friend through throngs of Chin.ese tourists, I sent a little thought to heaven, "thank you for making me, for giving me the chance to know this place and these people so intimately, and for having patience with me when I don't remember to be thankful."

Seeing the boys made me realize just how far I've come since the days of knowing nothing and wondering around like a lost puppy. It's been a good ride. And it ain't over yet.

Here, have some pictures:

baby Mushu being perfect and awesome:

Walmart's finest snack special, chicken feet on ice:

I don't take enough pictures of Chinglish:

I once saw a man buy every balloon and give it to his girlfriend. I swooned.

and a sign for a new McDonalds sandwhich...bacon, two meat patties, and MASHED POTATOES. What is sad is that the Chin.ese people will think all foreigners eat like this. Goodness gracious. Pass the broccoli, just looking at this picture makes me sick...

What are you thankful for today? Please don't say McDonalds. ;)

walk slow. xoxo.

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