I’m never really sure how much of my life should be appropriate to share on this blog. It’s been just over a year since I started writing on here, mainly on a whim. Well, I first started this in November of 2013, meaning to create a cooking blog which never really materialized. But then I picked it up again in April, because for the first time in a year, or even in five years, I felt the urge to write again.
There were times I’ve written about personal things, but I’ve also purposefully let many of these things out. Life abroad, as much as I love it, has not always been glamorous: at times it’s being carried through the pulsating crowds on the metro because it’s just too packed. It’s the woman in the grocery store never saying ‘excuse me’ as she jabs my left side with her shopping cart. It’s the fact that we spend so much time here focusing (or not focusing) on the buildings and the trees that surround us, that we forget to acknowledge that we live across an ocean from the places that are familiar.
There was this day at Sumerian last Fall when the leaves just started changing to yellow, the temperature finally got cold enough to get under my grandmother’s shawl, and the coffee shop hadn’t quite shut its windows yet. That was at the time I was just getting used to drinking cappuccinos. We were working there on a Saturday, which always meant that the noise level reached uncomfortable levels. The owner roasted coffee beans all afternoon and the woman to my left was drinking a chai latte. It felt cozy, familiar, and so much like being at Blue State home, but at the same time, everything just felt a little off.
Sure, there are awesome things about living in China, like the fact that you can drink road beers at any time without anyone turning an eye. But then there are things that just throw you off. I went to a bar for a happy hour with a friend last week and we ordered two shrimp cocktail appetizers, which took most of an hour to arrive. And yes, it seems weird to deeply mull over the time that it takes for four shrimp to be delivered to your table (does it? ‘oh yes, these crustaceans are quite rubbery’), it also feels wrong that an action like that should take that long, on a fundamental level, like someone telling you that they pee for 45 minutes straight, or that the meat you’re eating on the street is really lamb. It’s a sort of uncanniness that carries into real life until you’re no longer sure what’s normal and what isn’t.
And that sort of comes back to my point. I never know just how much of myself I should share. My real-life self and my online-self are similar, but they’re not quite the same. And yeah, of course the right answer is ‘share however much you feel comfortable’. And I get that. But it’s harder than it may seem, isn’t it?
I’ve been in China for a year now, and now that my the of ‘wasting my life abroad’ have dissipated, I’m faced with another fear: what in the hell am I going to do with my life while I’m abroad? It doesn’t help that I’m impatient, and I want answers and a clean solution, like now (which in some ways is the Chinese way too).
Right now, I’m panicking. I know I shouldn’t be, because in theory I can coast in China indefinitely. But I don’t want to coast. I want to do something meaningful.