Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Longest Welcome Back Ever

When we paid a visit to the Marble Boat, just hours before boarding a plane to the America, it marked the end of what seemed to be a long goodbye to China. There were so many places we wanted to see one last time before we moved. And more importantly, there were so many people we had grown so attached to in such a short time of living in Beijing.

What we couldn't anticipate at that moment was that we were about to embark on a welcome back journey that would still be going on, several weeks after our arrival in the United States. Sure, we knew that there would be joyous family reunions and visits with good friends we had missed so much. And we all had visions of what it would be like to walk down the center aisle at St. Andrew's, all the way to our familiar front pew (which, by the way, was open and waiting for us).

What we didn't conceive of, though, was how all of this reentry would take place in drips and drabs. A person here. A place there. I think we all had kind of imagined one big "It's Great To Be Back!" moment, and then it would be life and business as usual.

The upside of this "long welcome home" is that we continually get to have these really, really happy encounters. People we haven't seen in a year, who we are delighted to be with once again, and who (thankfully!) are just as excited to see us. It feels great to have a smile on so much of the time! It is awesome to hear about where all of the kids have chosen to go to high school and about all of those family trips to places like the beach, Ireland, and Montreal. And, even though I know this is vain, it is nice to still stand out in the crowd a bit, to have people seeking you out for hugs, kisses, and conversation.

Now if we could just figure out how to give a decent answer to the"How was China?" question!

~Steve

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My New Bike

When you leave all of your stuff for a year, you come back thinking that everything has shrunk. There is a lot of throwing out, giving away...And then there is replacing...Yep!...My bike is too small.

When we took a bike ride, my knees hit the handle bars. It was clear I needed a new bike!

At the first chance, Dad and I went to The Bicycle Place to look at bikes. My best two options were the "comfort" and "fitness" styles. The comfort style was bulky, it had a big, squishy seat, and a big frame. The fitness style was thin, had a thin seat, and a light-weight frame. When the fitness style (the coolest bike in the world) was shown to me, it was an easy decision. Yeah, I'll chip in $100!

After days of anticipation, we called and were told to come by the next day. After a hike on the Billy Goat Trail, Dad and I headed to Silver Spring. The dudes got it ready while we ate lunch.

After happily loading my new, white speed bike into the car, we headed for home and my first ride. That bike zipped up and down hills, with its light weight and flick gears (you press a lever and the gears change). Watch out Dad...Here I come!

~Z

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Score!

OK, here's one little part of our Chinese lives, we just discovered, we can indulge in right here in the DC suburbs.

You may recall Julie's zai lai yi ping post from a few months back. This particular brand of 绿茶 (green tea) was one of our go-to drinks over the course of the past year. How sad we were to leave it behind...

But, then, we decided to take a spin by a local Asian supermarket. I wandered over to the drink aisle, in a quest to find some kind of drink that might at least remotely resemble our tastes of China. As my eyes scanned the shelves, there were lots of options, many of which I presumed would leave me wanting.

And then the magic moment happened. I can only imagine what the rest of the shoppers thought when this waiguoren went dashing through the store, bottle of green tea held high, excitedly looking for the rest of his laowai family. (Oh, wait...We can't refer to ourselves as waiguoren anymore, can we? How about when we have entered a store full of Chinese workers and customers? Can we consider ourselves to be on Chinese soil?)

As you can see, we loaded up our cart, and then refrigerator, with a healthy supply of bottles (not to mention some wasabi peas, one of Desi's new found cravings that she is happy not to leave behind).

The only problem? Where do we return our bottle caps when we uncover a zai lai yi ping? It's a long, long way to the Anhui family's shop...

~Steve