When does the next one begin
Happy on the pull of the past
Just before the future comes
Hoping for the rush of some experience
That could elevate me
- The Flaming Lips
|This is definitely not Beijing|
Beijing’s September started off with a bang. And when I say bang, I mean it started off with rain. The fall season has thus begun. People are wearing light sweaters and the children socks. Body odors aren’t so repugnant, and the sky breezes pollution free and blue as a gleaming sapphire.
The cooling temperatures are a welcome respite from Beijing’s muggy summer. We heard that July in Beijing was particularly insufferable. Rain poured for two weeks straight during which the sun refused to show up even once. Additionally, the heat and humidity were so intense that nobody left the sanctuary of air conditioning.
While Beijing cooked like a baozi (dumpling) in the steamer, California charred like a Kalua pig in the BBQ pit. Devastating wild fires ripped throughout California, leaving thousands homeless and the skies shrouded in soot. It was here in California’s dry inferno, the three of us spent the summer. My brother-in-law joked that California’s air pollution made us Beijingers feel like we were right at home.
We did feel right at home--but not because California air pollution was on par with Beijing’s notorious pollution. (Side note: smoke is waaaayyyy worse than car exhaust air pollution.) We felt at home because 1.) California is our home and 2.) we stayed at Moomoo’s house, and Moomoo makes you feel at home.
As if the nightly gourmet dinners (e.g. beef bourguignon), daily delectable breakfasts (blueberry pancakes), and King-sized bed with a private bathroom, weren’t enough, Moomoo scheduled another week in yet another Magnificent Beautiful House in Lake Tahoe. Seven grandchildren ran amok throughout the house. Dumpling was besides herself surrounded by her cousins and endless bounty of Haagen dazs ice cream, avocado and corn chips.
Otherwise, we did what we always do when we summer in California: we catch up with friends, ooh and ahh at how the kids have grown, swim, and eat lots of cheese and barbecued meat. In addition, we squeezed in a few side trips: one to Georgia to visit my sister and her husband, and one to beautiful Monterey Bay with Yaya, Pop-Pop, and cousins Caden and Zephram.
And just like that, just as the smoke began to clear, our summer elapsed into the clouds. We said, “See ya, California!” once again, and said “Hello, Beijing!” Yep, back to steamy Beijing. Back to air drying our clothes and towels until they are stiff as boards. Back to hand washing every single dish. Back to speaking Chinese as clumsily as a carsick clown on a tightrope. Back to reality.
While I ached for American conveniences like a dishwasher, Dumpling eased right back to her Beijing life like Cinderella’s foot in her glass slipper. She gleefully ran around the apartment rediscovering her toys. She skipped around Merry Mart waving to the workers like they were old friends. She perfected her slide skills with as much finesse as a Cirque Soleil acrobat.
So here we are more than halfway through September enjoying blue skies and mild temperatures. We’ve stopped dreaming about leaving China. We are back to our Beijing life, and we are OK will it. birdMAN is again teaching high school math, and I follow Dumpling around and talk to ayis at the park. Life is functioning at a comfortable normal. And we still have plenty of room to drastically improve our Chinese skills. Maybe we’ll stick around a little (or a lot) longer.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Beijing is home.
Chinese Word of the Blog: 九月 Jiǔ yuè (literally, nine month)
English Translation: September
|Grandma makes us dinner. We're not in China, but we still get Chinese food.|
|Eating good at Moomoo's|
|Dumpling can't believe her eyes. California has so many french fries.|
|We only dare to wear white, pretty dresses in California. Here you can wash with hot water and use a dryer.|
|Hi Lake Tahoe! Our old friend.|
|Cousin Sabella's excitement is contagious!|
|Post nap grumpies. She slept through ice cream time.|
|California = Haagen Dazs heaven|
|Ohh and ahhh, how the kids have grown!|
|Good times with our long time friends.|
|Dumpling feels at home|
|Checking out Monterey Bay Aquarium|
|Keeping cool at the California coast|
|Sacramento Zoo excursion|
|Back in Beijing, and the weather is fine!|