The situation is bleak in Beijing - expats are being called back to their home countries and Centro, my favorite bar there, has been booked almost daily with farewell parties.
Beijing has already changed, and possibly beyond my recognition.
It's already been three years since I was last there - I've been gone for almost longer than I lived there. And I miss it.
I was asked recently if I've ever missed someone so much that it hurt. I'm sure I have. I may choose not to remember it, or to rationalize the emotion as stemming from something else entirely, but I can't possibly be a stranger to that feeling. Can I?
However, it occurs to me that my most important "love affairs," have been with the cities I have called home.
NYC MM, once asked me if I miss talking to my ex-husband. Specifically, when going about my day and something funny or noteworthy happens, do I still reach for my phone to send him a text message? If I read something in the news that might interest him, is my first instinct still to forward it to him? If I see a funny sign on the street, do I take a picture of it and still think to forward it to him?
The answer is "no." MM asked me that question because she's a strong communicator that way - she's a big fan of the interesting or relevant or funny little tidbit quickly sent via text or email to entertain, to share, to show that she's thinking of you. In some ways, I am, too, but to be frank, the husband was not high on the list of people I would think to share such things with. (Which, no doubt, helps explain the "ex" part of the equation).
And the things that catch my eye are almost always about my physical surroundings - about the city I live in. And the appropriate audience for those little tidbits is... the city itself. Can you text a city?
"Love what you've done with this park."
"What happened to that whole building? WTF were you thinking?!?"
"Remember the last time I walked down this street? The sun angled in exactly the same way and all the feral cats who were sunning themselves on that low wall mewled at me in unison as I walked by..."
"I kissed a lovely boy while standing RIGHT HERE. What was his name again? Oh yes, that's right."
Wo xiang ni.