Well, it’s been quite a while since I wrote anything here on my blog! Student life is my excuse – November was full of final assessment, stuvac and exams. My last exam was on November 23rd, and was followed by a number of college events culminating with a lovely graduation ceremony which I performed at. The very next morning I was on a plane to the US!
My first stop was Los Angeles, where I spent a single day visiting with China friends. A lovely friend picked me up at the airport. It was a gorgeous day – blue skies, warm sunshine and just the lightest bite to the air. The air was so clear I could see the Hollywood sign on the hills beyond the city from the highway leaving the airport.
The friend who picked me up I call “Miss Fu”. We’ve known each other for over 11 years – she was my first flatmate. I went to church with her, then lunch at a Mexican restaurant – where I had my first ever tamale! She also helped me get a US SIM card, a shower, and a nap – each of the three being equally needed and appreciated. It was so natural to be together, and so wonderful to catch up.
A kiwi friend in China had recently left California after a few months there and told me to hug a palm tree for her! While I didn’t quite get to hugging, it did make me notice them more, and I took a bunch of photos – their eye-catching shape against the winter-blue sky was beautiful.
In the evening I had Korean BBQ for dinner with four girls who had been in my youth group in Beijing years ago. All four are now married, one has two kids, and another is pregnant with her first. One of them realised she is now the age I was the last time we saw each other, about 9 years ago. Then followed a discussion of how I couldn’t possible have been so young because I seemed so grown up and they don’t feel that grown up and who would put hundreds of teens in the care of someone that age — and I was able to joyfully explain that yep, I was that young, and nope, I didn’t have all the answers they seemed to think I had had.
It was a delightful, incredible evening. I was able to talk to each of them, across the table, over delicious Korean food that just kept coming. Somehow it felt like the most natural thing in the world – to sit and chat with girls, now women, I hadn’t seen in years and years, in a city I had never seen them in before. A week later, the whole evening seems almost like a dream – did it really happen? Thankfully, I have photographic evidence to refer to ;)
One of them took me home to crash at her parents’ place before my early morning flight across the country. I was able to meet her husband, and to greet her parents and two of her siblings. It was lovely to see them again. One of her brothers I actually taught 8th grade English to at an international school in Beijing years ago. He is so tall now!
We left for the airport before sunrise, with pretty colours creeping into the sky. I hadn’t made the online check-in work the night before so I was in a middle seat with people either side of me. One was delighted by my accent, wanting to hear me say things and teach him new slang words. He was neither the first nor the last to enjoy my accent – and with a few weeks left to go I know it’s a conversation I’ll have again a number of times! At least one person has commented that I sound “more Australian” than I did in Beijing, this despite the fact that after only a week I can already hear my vowels and Rs shifting a little toward American pronunication.
My flight landed in Boston in the late afternoon. I worked my way through the airport to the hire car area and picked up the car I’d booked for the week. At this point I’d had 4-5 hours of sleep in over 50 hours – and now it was time to drive on the wrong side of the road… Stay tuned for the resulting adventures in Massachusetts!