As I watch the last hours of 2020 ticking away, I have no feelings of excitement or gratitude or hope or even relief. I know nothing will change. In the absence of hope, my tired trust and belief will have to be enough. Because I do believe that I will get through whatever 2021 throws my way. We’ll get through it together.
My month in the US ended with an evening flight on Christmas Day. My family were all catching up after Christmas anyway, so I got to celebrate Christmas TWICE – on two different continents.
I saw quite a few friends in San Diego, mostly people I had known in Beijing, but also an Australian friend who lives in Mexico. I especially enjoyed the view from Fletcher Cove Park – the Pacific Ocean, albeit the wrong side.
I had only one day in San Francisco, but my friends helped me pack a lot in! Particularly special was a visit to the Napa Valley and the winery my friend works at. It is a beautiful area, and the wines we tasted were lovely, too. The most special thing of all, though, was spending time with great friends I hadn’t seen in so long.
I had a lovely time in Seattle, Washington. It was an amazing whirlwind of visiting with friends from all my years in Beijing. I also saw Gas Works Park, seaplanes, the Space Needle and deer casually sauntering around a suburban neighbourhood.
A good month before leaving Australia for my US trip I was dreaming of Orlando. I knew that this place would be the rest my soul desperately needed. I spent a week of unhurried days with people who were key figures of my daily life in Beijing. I also spent time birdwatching the wetland wildlife, marvelled at Spanish moss covered trees, and enjoyed a bit of warm weather.
I really enjoyed my time in Minneapolis. It was lovely to relax with wonderful friends. Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes; after driving around Minneapolis I believe it! Minneapolis has 20 lakes, plus other waterways and waterfalls and wetlands, and sits across both banks of the Mississippi River. One interesting sight during my trip was a bunch of turkeys roaming a suburban street!
Throughout this trip I’ve had reunions with people I haven’t seen in years, but my New York reunions were the most impressive. I also did some touristing, seeing the New York Highline, Chelsea Markets, Times Square and the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree.
I came to the US to be in my best friend’s wedding. Christina and I met in Beijing; she met her now husband, who is from Nigeria, in Cambodia; they got legally married in Thailand; then we we all together to celebrate their church wedding in the US. Confused yet? There were guests from Sydney (me), London, Abuja (Nigeria), and I think 7 different US states. It was a wonderful time.
This was my first trip to the East Coast of the US in 18 years – since my family lived in Connecticut in 1996-1997. There were so many memory triggers! Tall oak trees; wood-clad houses; tall, sloping rooves with attic windows; squirrels bouncing around; lakes and ponds with frozen tops. I spent the last two nights in a house first built over 250 years ago.
My first stop was Los Angeles, where I spent a day visiting with China friends. It was a gorgeous day – the air was so clear I could see the Hollywood sign. A week later, the whole day seems almost like a dream – did it really happen?