Friday, August 15, 2014

Zai Jian Haizi!

Our 100-percent-Chinese-family-summer is about to come to an end.

When Bob and I first talked about moving to China, our thinking was that it would be an adventure and a way to see Asia. We knew that Daniel had been teaching in China but weren't sure how long he'd be staying. And Joanna was working at a good job, fighting the snow of Wisconsin, and off on her life.

What a surprise, then, when Daniel stayed in China for a while longer and Joanna came to visit (after quitting her job) and stayed. I've told this story many times, but it's a fun one to repeat. One month became two, two became six, six months became a year, and a year became two years. It was a good thing.

Then, last summer, both kids left China to go to grad school in the States, both choosing schools and cities that were as un-China as could be imagined, Daniel in Denver and Joanna in Chapel Hill. We said goodbye to them and re-started life as parents of children who lived on the other side of the world. FaceTime helped enormously with that, and Christmas this year was a great reunion of all of us.

Then, to our delight, both kids decided to land back in Beijing this summer, Daniel to study language intensively and Joanna for an internship (and for a certain fellow who may have had a role in her choice of cities). It's been a lovely summer, even with all my complaints about heat, pollution, the lack of any place comfortable to sit in this entire country.

I have to value the fun times: dinner at Chi for Daniel's birthday where the chef's surprise cuisine turned out to be Japanese, a choice we loved. A visit to the National Center for the Performing Arts to see a Shakespeare production. A pengyou party with our visiting friend Anne, where I  made mac and cheese. Nights of watching "True Detective," "Game of Thrones," "Mad Men," and "Sherlock."  Walking through the neighborhood trying to make out the Chinese characters on buildings, and arguing over that. Bringing Joanna with me on one of my hiking days. Doing Heyrobics with her. Losing at Tumbling Towers to Daniel.

When we move back to the U.S., Bob and I will be based in DC, at least for a while. That's home. But where the kids land after their master's degrees is an open question. So I don't know if there will be a time when we'll all be living in the same city again. It's unlikely, anyway, that that city will be Beijing.

So zai jian, hai zi. I'll have to find other ways to embarrass you in the States, since I can't say that there will be any line-dancing of Chinese grandmas for me to join there, or scarf saleswomen at the Pearl Market to scold.

But I'm sure I can come up with something. See you at Thanksgiving.

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