Escape from Shanghai

I don’t often write impromptu entires like this one.

If you squint, you can see a plane flying off to Japan and into the sunset
If you squint, you can see a plane flying off to Japan and into the sunset

I’ve had another entry in the making for the past week, one that I’ve been carefully crafting —  about China’s conveniences, my wheat allergy, taking taxis, and living on my own — but somehow writing spontaneously like this, right now feels more true to this moment (if only because I’m hastily scribbling it via Evernote on my iPad)

Today, I am leaving Shanghai and China behind (albeit temporarily). To be honest, the entire time living in this city has felt a bit like staying in a prison (a gold, gilded prison, not the Guantanamo kind). Well.. no. Prison may not be the right word. Perhaps it’s been more like a fantasy (wow, that sure was a quick reversal wasn’t it?). Sure, I have enough money in my bank account to fly back home any time and, if need be, in less than 24 hours, I can be back in LaGuardia, crying in front of that giant American flag that greets you as you walk in from the international terminal. And yet, I haven’t felt the urge to act on my escape plan home. In some weird way, going home doesn’t feel it could be real. It’s felt like I’ve been trapped in a glass castle, encased by the glittering Jingan temple, and held here by the cheap alcohol, the shimmering bars, and the illusion that living abroad in a city like Shanghai.

But now that I’m leaving for Thailand, if just for a week, something feels rattled. And to be honest, I quite like this freedom. This exhilaration of being back in the airport, writing this entry on my iPad while rolling down the walkerator (there aren’t enough walkerators outside of airports)

Despite my disastrous last few experiences flying to New Orleans, or Moscow, or even Shanghai, something about being in airports is simply thrilling. I love their rapid pace, the sense of being outside the limitations of time zones, their smell of stale coffee, plastic luggage, and the inky scent of the Wall Street Journals you always get at Hudson News. In a few hours I’ll be away from the smog, away from the honking cars of Shanghai, lying on a beach on Phi Phi Island. But for now, the Art Deco carpet of Shanghai’s Pudong Airport will have to do for a change of pace.

Here’s to freedom.

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