A lot can happen in ten years
Ten years ago, I was enjoying Spring in Beijing. There was plenty I wasn’t enjoying, but Spring…. Spring I was enjoying – with all the changes it brought to the city and therefore to my life.
The harsh Winter had receded and there was green everywhere.
We spent our weekends in parks and gardens. We explored. We had a magical weekend out at ‘The Wall’ – where I was deafened by the silence. Beijing was never silent.
We ate out most nights (both easier and cheaper than trying to shop and cook as an expat). We sat in beer gardens drinking and laughing with our ever growing and changing network of ex-pat friends.
And we knew, just knew, that this glorious period of Spring would not last. (And it didn’t… on every level)
Ten years ago my best friends got married. We flew back from Beijing to Guernsey for the wedding – and that started what became a deepening of the friendship, even across the miles.
We were all still child free. We could make a Friday flight pretty much anywhere work. We could deal with the time differences, the jetlag, the hangovers. It was exciting to have weekends exploring cities. To make convoluted travel plans to co-ordinate a meet up ‘somewhere’ convenient (aka Vegas – quite possibly the most outrageous and fantastic ‘weekend’ away ever).
It is just under 10 years since we worked out that Beijing was not working out – and was never going to.
And so we made changes. Again.
We moved back (briefly – with great thanks to those best friends for their spare bedroom) and then we left again, shortly after – to the bright lights of NYC – where the only language issue was the confusion over the use of the letter ‘Z’.
10 years ago I was about to turn 30. And I was wondering what that would mean. What changes it would bring about.
Well, slowly, and bit by bit the changes arrived.
I got married. I had the eldest. And then thinking that she had been a genius idea, I had the middlest. And then, when I’d caught my breath and forgotten the chaos of newborns, I had the littlest. And every time a change. A shift. A move from what had been to what was needed ‘now.’
The changes all seemed so small at the time. Can I shift my office hours so I leave a little early to collect from Nursery? Can I shift again, but a bit more, to deal with the fact that we now live in the ‘burbs, rather than the City. Can I shift again – so that I can gain a little time back for me – and my dreams?
And now, nine months and ten years on – and I’m back in China. Full circle on the changes – and yet a whole different world.
And I’m sat watching Spring emerge in Shanghai – and I’m enjoying every moment. Noticing every single ones of the changes that is going on – the leaves on the trees, the warming up of the air, the enjoyment of the outdoors. And I’m not so worried that I know it will all change again soon.
I’m good with the now and excited by the changes, the possibilities.
The children are growing – like weeds! – and I’m facing 40.
The weekend trips just don’t work so much anymore. But the friendships do. The old ones and the new. And who knows what the next season will bring? Whatever happens, I’m ready for it…