This is a time of tumultuous change. My apartment, the nature of my work, my ‘purpose’ for being in Shanghai are all rapidly changing and evolving. At long last,I feel like I am finally in control of my expat experience (the fact that I have a phone after almost six months of functioning entirely on an iPad helps tremendously). I feel at ease – one might say, almost settled – in Shanghai.
Celebrating an American holiday in a country that swiftly chooses to ignore it is disorienting. To be honest, I don’t really remember how I spent my last Thanksgiving. Perhaps it was spent in New York city? A quiet Thanksgiving in Queens? Two years ago though, it was spent in a bout of a raging stomach flu, puking my brains out all the way down the New Jersey turnpike (though to be fair, just being on the NJ Turnpike would do that to most people). A fateful encounter with the Norovirus, a Sunday night supper of Korean shellfish Soondubu, and a pint of red raspberry sorbet later (all of which I still can’t eat to this day), and my stomach was writhing in pain for days. I was trapped in a vicious cycle of starving myself until I started feeling better and then trying my luck with food until I realized that I was still sick To be fair, New York city falafel over rice had probably not been the smartest thing first to eat when I thought I had recovered.
This Thanksgiving was spent in Shanghai, still recovering from a “welcome back to China” 24-hour stomach bug (as my body had detoxed from the poison water). In lieu of a turkey and mashed potatoes, we celebrated with duck, dongbei fried potatoes, and an assortment of other artery-clogging Thanksgiving dishes (naturally keeping in line with the Holiday spirit). I think out of all the quintessentially American Holidays, Thanksgiving has to be my favorite. It’s a celebration of food, of Fall, of friends (and it’s just days before my birthday!)
So what am I thankful for this year?
- I’m thankful for starting anew in China.
- I’m thankful for new traditions (curry in lieu of gravy, notwithstanding)
- I’m thankful for nights spent with T, watching Modern Family under her blanket, eating Taiwanese brown-sugar ice that was delivered right up to the 6th floor (at no extra charge!)
- I’m thankful for friends who keep me grounded back home and the close relationships I’ve been able to maintain.
- I’m thankful that moving halfway across the world did not mean breaking off old ties, that after 7 years, I can still talk to Ankita as if it were just yesterday that we were back in Cambridge, or that I can call my college roommate at any time and know that he’ll take the time off rehearsal to listen.
- I’m thankful for gluten-free granola.
- I’m thankful for freedom.
- I’m thankful for how cheap Asian pears are in the fruit stalls (although they’ll never replace Cortland apples)
- I’m thankful that after four years of giving up and writers block, I’ve finally found the courage to keep writing