Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

Midterms, Personal Elections

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Shanghai is an airport.  Twenty million souls shuffling through time.  Burdened by baggage belonging to the past.  It’s an international depot of the poor, the pillaged, the pirates, the personable, the privileged.  It’s businessmen, foreigners, Chinese, terminals under construction, trendy coffee bars, and people moving on-the-fly.

Check-in and check-out of my life; they wobble en masse through my gates, stamp, and they are gone.


If this were the ’50s, galvanized cool, I’d be Dean, reclusively placed, stolid, indubitable.  I’d be sipping something someone else didn’t even know the bar offered.  That’s cause I’d know the guy who knows the guy.  I’d have that dim spotlight on my eyes, the inverse raccoon effect, portraying awareness and a keen sense of my place alien to the commoner.  There’d be a newspaper on my table, folded twice, but I would have already read it; shit, I woulda been able to predict half of the nonsense.

That’d be me.  That’d be my opening scene.


Part of the problem with Odyssey is the inherent oddity of life, satisfaction.  Friends respond to my recent emails with consolation, “Sorry you didn’t find what you were looking for in…”  But this is misguided.  I am no Columbus sailing off course.  Determination lead me here, not a cosmic miscalculation.  Perhaps my verbal mapping has not been GPS precise.  I don’t have Onstar, and I don’t particularly want some voice filling my moments of pause with informed decisions.

Friends, allow me to reiterate.  Shanghai has not been a failure.  Rather, a success.

Here I am, widdling away at a glacier of possibilities with a mere icepick.  I can make a lot of cocktails with that many cubes.  And I recently poured myself a sublime concoction.

With a splash of truth, I now realize that the order and confinement of schooling fails to wholly appease my intentions.  The quality of education, perhaps moreso of educators, fails to merit my monetary contributions.  Thus, a penny saved is a penny earned.


In one month I will make my long-awaited return to the U.S.  It will have been 695 days since I have last stepped foot on the motherland.  Yet, it is just another layover, en route to the unknown.  Upon my return to Shanghai, I will finish my semester at Fudan University, and promptly withdraw.  The money alloted for tuition and rent, as well as my efforts to improve my Mandarin, will be better spent on the backroads of the countryside and quiet(er) alleyways along the seaside.

I am changing my itinerary, ditching the international terminal and flying national for a while.  In January, once again, it will be time to shed my material entrapments, pack my bags, and once more be off to a destination unknown.


Written by Miles

November 7, 2007 at 9:43 am

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