Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Farewell Shanghai!

I know I'll be posting this a little after I return to the States. But, I'm writing it before and after I leave, so just keep that in mind when you read this final blog for Shanghai Lullaby.

In the last few days here in Shanghai, the kids and I have been busy exploring this big and bustling city in which we have lived the last two years., what a city. As most big cities, this one offers everything a big city person craves...people, lights, commerce, nightlife, food...ENERGY, almost around the clock.

I'm still a small town girl at heart, but it took living in such a dynamic city as this one to truly appreciate why other people, like my husband and oldest son, crave this kind of energy so much. I have to admit that it does grab you. The convenience, the accessibility, the variety...all of it...takes a hold of you and now I see why some people have a hard time ever letting that feeling go.

In the last few days, I drive around the city, looking not just through it, but AT it. And wow...what a city it is! And as I pass certain iconic features of the city, I admit in my heart that after two years, I will kind of miss a few things. So, it's in this last blog that I have to say goodbye...

Written monologue & journal of the last few days:
I wake up feeling more than a little tired, as is the usual these past few weeks due to getting up with my infant. I already hear my two older boys clamoring in the other room, already awake and ready for breakfast. Although, I have them trained and they know not to wake mommy up too early. I sit up, stretch, massaging my achy back. I proceed to take care of baby #3's morning needs, still half asleep. The sun these days seems to rise earlier than a rooster's bright through the slit in the curtains! My infant definitely will not go back to sleep with that kind of light filtering in the room. *sigh*

The boys are making even more noise now and I feel I better hurry out the door to make them be quiet. My friend's husband came home from their home country for a little vacation - FOUR days earlier than when we are supposed to leave.
I'm sorry...but, what an annoying man! Since his arrival, and because I know he doesn't even appreciate it when his own kids make noise, I feel I have to shush my kids every few minutes! He knew our itinerary and that it would be just us girls until at least May 16th! But, in his own man mind, he decides to come back earlier to use up some of his vacation time just for the heck of it. My friend seems to think his main objective for coming at all is a booty call! Grrr...

I shush my kids and proceed to make them breakfast. I go back upstairs to get ready for the day. I have decided to take the boys through the city and take pictures. We all get ready and away we goooo! I took a few pictures...before it started raining! The weather in Shanghai has been absolutely nerve wracking this, then cold, super hot, then downright frigid. And it's mid-May! What's the deal? Annoying. We cut our day short and head back home.

Chilled for a few hours before the LAST gathering of friends to meet up for dinner. We went to a very nice and tasty Chinese food restaurant. Transitioned to the Vue Bar on the Bund and saw a spectacular show of the Pudong skyline. That was fantastic! Afterwards, a few of us head to a foot massage parlor and enjoyed our last moments together. The whole evening was filled with lots of laughs and lots of tears, gifts exchanged. Saying goodbye was really, really hard. Hated it.

Got up to do it all over again. Rain. Picnic cancelled at the park. Took the boys with me to do some last minute errands, came home...and packed. Ugh. What a task!! How many bags do I have now?? Yikes! Seven large bags and three carry ons! How are we going to get to the airport? Ugh.

Visited my chinese, local friend in the hospital...she just had surgery. Need to say goodbye. I bring my two older boys along since they also have a relationship with both my friend and her daughter. This friend and i have been neighbors and friends for the past two years. Her daughter was Ryan's first and bestest friend for two whole years. The fought and played like brother and sister. This might be hard.

We arrived at the hospital and my friend's mother starts crying. She treated my boys like surrogate Grandchildren and she will miss us very much. She only speaks chinese, so my friend has to translate. The mother gives me a great, big bear hug and doesn't let go. We hug for several moments, as I rub her back softly and we rock. Then, I sit down and hug my friend. We talk for several minutes. Our kids are playing together on the empty bed in the room. Her family arrives to's time to say goodbye. My friend's daughter senses "the moment" we have to say goodbye and she starts screaming at her mother and breaks down crying. :-( Chinese parents are a bit harder on their kids than westerners, especially when it comes to feelings. Just as her mom was going to "control" her daughter's behavior with some yelling of her own...I grabbed my friend's hand to catch her attention. She looked at me and I told her right there, with a meaningful glance, that her daughter FEELS we do...and to go easy. That was all it that single moment, my friend also truly understood that this was our "real" goodbye. She started crying...I started crying...her daughter was crying...her mother was crying. My boys were looking at their new presents. Hmphhh.

I went to her daughter and opened my arms. She went into them immediately and I just hugged her for several long moments. Her mother (my friend) couldn't because she was flat on her back from surgery. Then I whispered gently into her ear how much we would miss her. How much we wanted to see her again. I told her I loved her and I felt deep in my heart we would see her again. I asked her to look after her mommy and grandma for me. She nodded her head. I told her that if we didn't leave to go back to America, how was she ever going to get to visit us in America? That seemed to calm her...yeah, that sounded logical to her. Because she really does want to visit America someday.

Shortly after that, and after one more round of hugs, we left. Suffice it to say...I was emotionally drained. That, by far, was the hardest goodbye yet.

My friend asked me to pick my favorite meal and they would cook it. Am I dying? But, of course, my ready answer to them was Raclette Cheese...with a Swiss chocolate finish! :-) So, that's what we got to eat. Ryan had picked out a cake to say his own farewell, but we all agreed it tasted really bad. Ick. Thank goodness we had some Swiss chocolate in the house! This is when all the kids wanted desperately to give my friend her farewell gift...and a thank you for letting us stay! My friend bakes her own bread - a lot. But, she doesn't have a bread box. I asked her about it and she admitted she didn't know why she didn't own a bread box. So, I had purchased one for her that was wooden...simple and plain. With permanent markers, I had each of the kids in the house draw pictures on a side of the box and sign their names and date it. Then, I had all of our mutual friends do the well as myself. It turned out fantastic...a little busy...but definitely a memory of our time together. Inside, was a house tassle for good fortune in the style of the Jiangxi Province artists (blue and white drawings) since she loves those patterns...and a fabric picture frame of my favorite pictures of her and her friends...myself included. :-) More tears...more hugs...

Our final day...the day of our departure. Racing to get every last item packed and the kids ready to go! Race, race, race! Tidying up, making one final breakfast, last shower with the rain shower head, giving items away to our ayi, bundling up the sheets and pillowcases for washing, handing the utility money off to my friend, handing our ayi's salary off to her, handing over our driver's salary. Race, race, race. Good! We are on time! One last thing...printing out the ayi and driver's letter of recommendations! C'MON slooowww computer...think faster!! What!? Can't print? Needs a special program to communicate with my friend's SWISS computer and printer? Aaaaggghh! Ok, switch it off...switch on her computer. Slooowwww. Tapping my feet, wiggling in my chair...sweating slightly. C'MON!! Won't print! Why? I don't know because everything is in German! My friend walks in, reminding me that I should have been on my way several minutes ago. Yeah, yeah! She takes a look at the computer...tells me that the computer I'm on just doesn't print and she doesn't know why. Aaagghhhh!!!!! Oh, never mind then!!

Race out to the have been waiting for a long time. Get the kids out, say their final goodbyes to their friends. Say my final goodbyes to my friend. More tears, more hugs. And off we go to the airport.

Arrive at the airport...NOBODY is in line. Lady tells me everyone else has already gone ahead to the gate. That can't be good. She miscalculates our baggage. To fix the problem, I demand they bring our baggage out for all of us to see. They the eleventh hour. the airline personnel RACES alongside us to get us to the gate. At customs, another airline employee helps and races alongside us. We are all RACING to the gate...them in high heels. How do they do that!? Of course the gate is one of the last on a wing of the airport. Five of us are running...and a stroller! My two little whiners are complaining that their feet hurt as we run and want to slow down! RUUUNNNN, damn you!!! They seem to feel my stress at this point and start to run faster. Employees are waiting at the gate, ready to bag the stroller and car seat. They tell me to hurry...uh, you think?! We race into the airplane and find our seats. An employee is strapping the boys in as the plane starts to roll backwards towards the runway!!! Whew! WAY too close!

And away we goooooooooooo...

heading for home.

And as the plane takes off, I think about the past few days and weeks. I close my eyes and say goodbye.
Goodbye copy markets
Goodbye pearl market
Goodbye cheap things
Goodbye neat things
Goodbye bridges
Goodbye lights
Goodbye buildings
Goodbye Shanghai nights
Goodbye energy
Goodbye museums
Goodbye mosquitoes
Goodbye heat
Goodbye air pollution
Goodbye people who wash their produce in storm drains
Goodbye people who stare into my shopping cart as I grocery shop
Goodbye people who give my kids candy when I'm not looking
Goodbye driver
Goodbye ayi
Goodbye friends :-(
Goodbye morning Tai Chi guy
Goodbye chinese food
Goodbye city life
Goodbye old buildings
Goodbye bad water
Goodbye chinese people who spit on the ground in front of me
Goodbye taxi drivers who pee on the side of the road
Goodbye trick bar
Goodbye Vue Bar
Goodbye squat toilets
Goodbye split pants
Goodbye chinese babies bottoms
Goodbye Pearl Tower
Goodbye Shovel building
Goodbye Bund
Goodbye cheap movies
Goodbye lingering haziness that never seems to go away
Goodbye chinese people who LOVE my kids
Goodbye safe living
Goodbye crazy driving
Goodbye Coffee Bean
Goodbye Bubba's
Goodbye lights on buildings, double decker buses and boats
Goodbye foot massage parlors on every corner
Goodbye Huangpu River
Goodbye Puxi/Pudong
Goodbye Taikang Lu

Goodbye Shanghai...

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