Today was a good China day. This morning I taught one of Kevin's classes. I haven't been teaching this year because I have been staying at home taking care of Juliana. I am glad to be able to be with her, but I do miss teaching. These were students I had taught last year and they were excited to see me; they clapped when I walked in. Nothing like a warm welcome!
This morning I heard from a graduated student I spent a lot of time with over the past few years. She has been in south China all term and I didn't expect to see her again before we left. She sent a message that she is supposed to return just a few days before we head to America, so hopefully we will be able to see her again once more!
In the afternoon, our student Alice came over to see us – the baby. She has been tremendously helpful to us lately. Many students are willing, even eager to help us, but Alice is also particularly competent at helping us, both because she is a native of Weinan, thereby possessing much valuable local information and contacts, and because she is confident and responsible. She enjoyed hanging out and being entertained by Juliana, who is always willing to step up put on a show. Today, she entertained us all by accomplishing her first substantial movement all the way across the living room floor – scooting backwards! I imagine soon she will be crawling, but for the moment she hasn't quite figured out how to propel herself forward. She finds this quite frustrating when lunging for a toy in front of her only to find herself inching further and further away.
Alice was touched when I passed on my giant stuffed giraffe to her. Though I am a big fan of her (the giraffe), I decided she is a bit bulky to ship seeing as she would need her own large suitcase. Alice was happy to take her into a good home, however. She told me it was almost her birthday (which I didn't know) and this would be a nice first birthday present. The only thing is I forgot to tell her the giraffe's name is Gloria.
Apparently it was good timing for the passing off of the giant giraffe because I discovered that Juliana has developed a fear of her. Juliana looked at her (the giraffe) with large, frightened eyes and started crying. I don't know why, since every fourth toy is a giraffe of some form. Perhaps it's the fact that this giraffe is approximately 6x the size of the baby.
Alice has been helping us figure out how to ship our belongings to Yinchuan, and today she brought the good news that we will be able to ship our things by railway straight from Weinan to Yinchuan – all of it for less than $150. Additionally, we found out we finally officially have an apartment waiting in Yinchuan. It certainly will not be as nice as this luxury apartment we have been living in (no heated floors, but there is heat), but it's hard to argue with $115/month. It is also on the campus of the school where we will be studying for convenient access to classes.
The other goodness of the day is harder to describe. It is something in the (relatively) clear air, all the recent blue skies (with real clouds even, white clouds!), the trees that have really filled out this year, and the birds that have filled those trees. Walking outside, seeing the green of the trees, hearing the little birds chirp as they hop on the sidewalk, feeling the warm sunshine, seeing the familiar grannies...all of it gave me a feeling of familiarity. If I didn't know better, I would say it was a feeling of belonging.
Perhaps I am just feeling sentimental since we are getting ready to leave Weinan, but recently I have been having these pleasant feelings that I have before only ever associated with home. It's like...China is becoming beautiful. Beautiful in a way that only the familiar can be. And I almost didn't feel sad about leaving Weinan because I think that perhaps I will find the same feeling elsewhere too.
So if you don't count the hour trying to get Juliana to take a nap or the two hours trying to get her to fall asleep, plus the subsequent pulling out of my hair, all in all it was a pretty good China day.