While preparing our final posts from China, I came across this text, hidden away in a folder on my laptop.
May 26, 2012. Today we officially made The Realization. This afternoon at 5:07pm, Karen and I discussed it, and we’re done. We’re done eagerly exploring new cultures and boldly venturing into the unknown.
This afternoon, Chris and Angie, youthful and vigorous as they are, set out on a 4-hour hike along the city wall. Meanwhile, I went on a utilitarian mission: to get cash and buy Tylenol for Karen. It’s Saturday afternoon in Xi’an, and the locals (especially the young people) are out in force, jamming the streets and shops.
On the walk I saw three “Apple Stores” that look like Apple Stores, right down to the blue-shirted employees, yet are not Apple Stores.
Almost every shop for blocks around our hotel sells mobile phones.
On every street there is a girl on a microphone yelling to customers and blasting techno music.
Try to assign meaning to these things? Would one of them make a good blog post? I can’t summon the energy.
As I jumped through the necessary hoops to get a few pain relief pills, I reflected on the fact that every interaction is like that, taking so much effort. Medicine in hand, I walked around the corner (getting stared at intermittently by the youth of China), arrived at the hotel, and threw in the towel.
It was Karen who insisted that we go home this summer for a break, an idea I initially resisted. But once the plane tickets were booked, it was comforting: no matter how crazy things get today, I’m heading home in a month… a couple weeks… now it’s basically here, so how I am supposed to concentrate on the Terracotta Warriors and acetaminophen?!
Tonight as we walked around the Muslim Quarter, we told Chris and Angie of our momentous realization. Chris’ response: “Oh yeah, we could tell. We’ve known since the first day in Hong Kong.” Later over a beer, Angie said, “You have senioritis.” Exactly. We’ve realized that no matter how we do in Mr. Pahachek’s Alegbra II class, we’re graduating next week.
“How will this affect the rest of the trip?” Angie asked. Actually, I am still fully engaged in my role as a photo-snapping tourist. I pushed for this stop in Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors, and I have a long To Do list for Beijing. Hopefully, I can run out the clock without too much more haggling, yelling, staring, acetaminophen-buying, or other culturally-harrowing pursuits.