Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Month of Goodbyes

I've been thinking for a long time about how to write this post. It won't be easy.

We've spent the last month saying goodbye to our good friends here in Beijing, starting with a lovely dinner at Black Sesame Kitchen with our hao pengyoumen. Later when Rachel and Scott left and I watched their ayi say goodbye to Leah, I lost it.

Nora said, "You're going to see them in Washington soon. Why are YOU crying?" But the truth was that I was crying about the fact that the ayi probably wouldn't see Leah again, or not anytime soon.

And when I said goodbye to Sarah and Isabella, I was a mess, mainly because I know Isabella won't remember me. I was so overworked that I left my purse at their house and had to go back to retrieve it. Awkward.

In fact, I've just been bursting into tears randomly -- well, not so randomly -- as I say goodbye to friends, to ayi, to my wonderful teacher, to our neighborhood, to Beijing, to China.

The parties, lunches, dinners, and drinks have been great, too. (Hello, loose-fitting pants!)

My hiking pals threw a lovely, chilly, champagne-infused party in a pagoda park where we snacked on cheese and crackers, apple cake, brownies, and nuts, while a Chinese family came by and stared as if what we were doing was some kind of performance art. I gave a silly little speech.

Then there was the Wall Street Journal party on Friday night. I remember that Bob gave a great speech and that others did too, and that it was all wonderful. But I do regret the series of events that led me at one point to insisting that the entire staff toast Smudge with baijiu and that led to the whole pole dancing scenario. Thankfully there's no photographic evidence of that, but there is this.
Don't ask. I don't know what kind of dance move that was either.

And then last night was our friends' party at Big Smoke. At one point I looked around and realized we had a United Nations of guests -- Brazil, Germany, Holland, Australia, Israel, the Philippines, China, America, Singapore, South Africa -- all eating guacamole and chips, fries, and chorizo.

We'll miss the older friends, like Eleanor, the 95-year-old who took us around the city with the energy of a teenager. We'll miss the infants, especially the ones I saw born here, like Leah, Gianna, Naomi, Dou-Dou, and Julia. I'll miss being Auntie Debbie to all of them.
Pretty mama, pretty boy with face mask.
One more Marco. Fun in a cab!

Sweet Dou-Dou and his sweet parents.

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