Some thoughts on the ‘Du now that we’ve been back for a month now:
1. We are officially the “old hands” here now. We are the people whose good friends have already up and moved on and we are now starting over with new friends among the new people-the new people who we will ultimately leave behind the way our old friends had to leave us. I’m sensing a cycle here.
2. Chengdu changes so fast, there is always something new to explore. I’m gone 3 months and I come back to a falafel stand, a new Japanese grocery store, organic rice available at Metro (albeit full of bugs) and countless other developments. The Hong Kong development that was half empty when I left is now THE night-out hot spot. What will this place be like by the time we leave?
3. My Xiang La Bing vendor still recognizes me even sans preggo belly. I will miss him and his wares dearly when we leave.
4. I still don’t love Chengdu, I don’t love China, but I’ve become familiar with this part of the country in a way that borders on affection. In the same way you can’t pick your family, you can’t pick your post. But its possible to learn to love or at least embrace both.
5. The “Victorian Brothel” style of “luxury decor” here does not seem quite as hideous to me as it once did. That or the aesthetic is gradually becoming less gaudy. I sincerely hope its the latter.
6. I now think of Chengdu as a really pretty great post, minus the pollution and food safety issues. Were it not for those two things, I could stay here much longer I think. Otherwise the traffic isn’t bad, markets and grocery stores are conveniently close by, the people are very nice, its cheap to live here, etc. Sure we miss a good restaurant scene and more interesting things to do on the weekend but having a baby now, we don’t miss those things quite as much these days. Or rather, we do, but we wouldn’t be going out doing them even if they were here 🙂
7. Having a baby makes me view China and the Chinese people differently. On one hand, see point #6. On the other hand, I’ve never had so many pleasant and wonderful interactions with people on the street as I have since we brought Will back. I was terrified of Sichuanese grandmothers scolding me for my child-care, but I’m finding its actually usually fellow parents that come up and make conversation. It’s nice.
8. My Chinese is getting better again now that I’m home all day without the opportunity to speak as much English.
9. Not related: but our new ayi is fantastic. Seriously. She cleans even better than I do (hard to do), she’s smart, she’s thoughtful and she’s just really nice to be around.Whoever hires her when we leave is a lucky, lucky family.
10. I had a profound #10 but the baby just woke up and I gotta get moving! Next time!