And so here we are, ready to finally say good-bye to Chengdu and “see you later” to all of the wonderful people we’ve met here.
I don’t have anything profound or poignant to say, I wish I did.
This morning I left Will sleeping under the watchful eye of our capable ayi to walk down to the local fresh market one more time.
It’s strange now to make the journey by myself, unencumbered by a diaper bag and a baby who always entertains himself on these trips by trying to eat my camera and find creative new ways to get germs into his mouth.
Without my mini-celebrity strapped to my chest, I felt invisible–in a good way, like I was somehow a part of the sidewalk scene instead of a foreign observer of it. I moved quickly through the crowds, leaped over a puddle of what I now know to be baby pee, swerved around the crowd in front of the doufu maker’s shop, and avoided whips of the long cilantro stalks that stick out out above the sea of shopping bags.
I stopped and bought xiang la bing and cong you bing from my favorite stall. I thought about telling the husband-wife bing team that we will be leaving Chengdu tomorrow, but then thought better of it. I took a few pictures that I’d been too chicken to take all of these months here and then I walked out into the mid-morning haze, taking a long route back through the neighborhoods of Yulin.
As I’ve written before, I didn’t do enough here. I didn’t take enough pictures or talk to as many people as I should have. I never learned the language properly and I didn’t do enough exploring. Perhaps its these regrets that keep me from feeling like this is truly goodbye. I can’t help but feel like I’ll be back again, maybe not to Chengdu, but to China.
We went to lunch at a nearby mall today, one that didn’t exist when we first arrived. On our way we drove by at least 15 of the ubiquitous cheap lunch stands that often feed us and the masses here in Chengdu. Plastic stools and mini card tables spilled out of the restaurants and onto the streets as patrons hunched over big white, chipped bowls, furiously slurping their noodles with the sort of subconscious concentration needed to eat a private meal whilst constantly brushing elbows with the two dozen other people also eating lunch, also attempting to ignore each other long enough chill out over some post-noodle pickles and a quick game of knock-off Angry Birds.
Whenever I see these scenes played out in the alleyways of this city I always wonder whether these places will still exist on our next trip to China. I kind of think they will always exist in Chengdu. I hope so.
I feel like there should be more to say but I can’t quite wrap my head around it all yet, so I think I’ll just stop here for now. This isn’t the end of the China stories, but its getting late and we’ve got an long day of traveling ahead of us tomorrow.
More come next week from Wisconsin including photos with grandparents and tales of traveling for 24 hours straight with an 8 month old. Until then, Bon Voyage and Chengdu zaijian. Thanks for reading.