These past two weekends after Mehdi left Guangzhou to go work in Hong Kong, I naturally followed to spend time with him, putting work on the back burner—because, well, I’m still owed a shit ton of money.
So due to traveling to and from Hong Kong and finally making more serious attempts to handle payment, I’m not blogging as frequently for this series, which I’ve renamed simply to a slightly less cringeworthy “Life in GZ.”
For the first time in a long time, though, I don’t feel that bad for not blogging.
With my 23rd birthday coming up (GASP, #ANCIENT), I do feel myself becoming more and more wise, mainly through experiences that make me feel the complete opposite. A major flaw of mine has always been relationships—more specifically, detachment from such. I guess I’ve never truly valued relationships, whether with friends or family, enough to fully understand what having and keeping them entailed. For various reasons, it always felt easier to stay on the outskirts of cliques, friendships, even familial relationships.
So with that background, I hope you enjoy this next edition of Life in Guangzhou.
1 — Grandma
On the night of March 3, I had a dream about my grandma. It came just days after I wrote about a recurring dream, and I woke up in the middle of the night after this dream to record it on my phone.
In the dream, I was in the kitchen at home with my sister talking to my grandma, who had just returned from a trip to Taiwan. Then we were talking in my old bedroom. It was around 1 p.m., so we were expecting lunch but knew that our grandma just wanted a break. As random as dreams are, there was a pet crab or some kind of shellfish whose mouth we had to put a rubber band around for whatever reason.
Anyway, in the dream my sister and I found out that we were Taiwanese and our grandparents were actually from Taiwan. The final note I made: “Really miss them.”
The next day, I told my sister about the dream, which says pretty much everything about how I feel about my grandma (and grandpa, for that matter). She basically raised us, but I don’t remember ever truly appreciating her when she was around. Not really speaking Cantonese didn’t help, either, for getting to know her. And since her passing, all I’ve been wanting is to talk to her again and find out more about where she and my grandpa are from (not Taiwan, hah). On a deeper, potentially more painful level, I just want to know if she ever felt disrespected by my younger, unwittingly ungrateful self.
2 — Loved Ones
This month I also read Tim Urban’s blog post, “The Tail End” (HIGHLY RECOMMEND). Highlighting one quote to summarize a scary reality:
It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.
As terrifying as it is to know that we’re in the tail end of spending time with the people we love, it motivates me to take a step back every so often in the middle of our more selfish pursuits and to reflect on how well I’m doing maintaining such valuable relationships. The top on my list now is to find the time to go back home soon to see my family. Maybe the time will come sooner than expected with this late payment thing…
3 — Professors & Former Employers
Anyone just glancing at my LinkedIn profile or résumé would easily assume I have many great connections. Unfortunately, despite knowing the importance of keeping in touch with professors and former employers, I’ve totally failed and am now trying to figure out how to reconnect with at least the professors to have them provide the references I’ll need should I apply for grad school. Yes, I’m still seriously considering getting a Master’s in Chinese studies ever since I conducted the interview with fellow ABCs in China and am getting to know more of my Chinese side.
4 — New Friends
Last night, a good, new ABC friend in Guangzhou invited me to drinks at Happy Monk with her boyfriend. Before I go any further, I need to point out how much I respect her efforts to hang out with not only me, but also her coworkers and other new friends. It takes effort and lack of fear for coming off as annoying, both of which I admit I don’t have at times.
So despite taking the 9:24 morning train back from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and in need of some sleep after working the same day, I took her up on her offer to get drinks at 10 on a Monday night.
And I’m glad I did. I admit there’s comfort and pleasure in being able to relate to similar experiences growing up as fellow Americans. I had forgotten how much I miss about the U.S. and felt happy that not only could they relate to childhood experiences (she’s from Colorado, while her boyfriend is from Georgia), but her boyfriend who works for a contract manufacturer also understood my situation at work, citing similar incidents of employees being held payment for nonsensical #CHINA reasons. In a twisted way, it felt so good knowing I wasn’t the only one experiencing essentially being taken advantage of as a foreigner who has been (foolishly?) valuing experience over money.
5 — Boyfriend
And last but certainly not least, a relationship I haven’t been valuing enough is the one with Mehdi (hi ❤ ). Especially after spending this weekend with him and his friend, I saw a side of him I don’t think I’ve seen in a while, if ever—in the best way possible. As my friend who also joined us this weekend pointed out, Mehdi’s so funny. Other ways to describe him: goofy and entertaining yet totally adorable. I love you, Mehdi.
CATCH UP WITH LIFE IN GZ
⇒ Wet Markets & Phone Shops
⇒ Renter, Love & Care
⇒ Camera, Coffee, Clarity
⇒ The Catch-Up
⇒ Passing By
⇒ The Familiar
⇒ Misfortune, Pt. 1
⇒ Misfortune, Pt. 2
⇒ Social Life
⇒ The Chinese