There’s someone intrinsically romantic about walking past the shimmering fountains and the glittering Hausmannian storefronts of Jingan in my pressed work Oxford shirt and slacks at dusk every night. Yesterday, I stopped by the fountain in front of the Gucci store and Plaza 66, lit up in emerald and azure, and just took all of Shanghai in. I think in moments like that I realize how lucky I am to be on the other side of the world.
I still miss home, but last weekend, somewhere between the second bottle of Bordeaux, the third rooftop Salsa dance, and the last sweaty hug goodbye in a cab at 4am (smeared mascara be damned), I started to understand why so many people love Shanghai. Keeping in touch with friends is still difficult. We’re all on different time zones. I keep on having to remember when I can talk to people and when I can’t, but I am finally starting to feel like I have a place here. It doesn’t matter that there is no working internet (the words 3G don’t exist in my new world) or that the air quality dips into the hazardous zone until I can no longer see the skyscrapers in my neighborhood. Like those American expatriates in Paris, I feel like I’ve carved some sort of niche. I may not have my Shakespeare & Co, but last night, I found a book cafe, took out my knitting and flipped open the pages of a novel.
Last week, I was finally reunited with one of my true loves: kale (food trends be damned!) It came in a (horrendously overpriced) 40 kuai organic cashew milk and banana shake, but it was ‘kale’ nonetheless! Now why, might you ask, did I finally just reach out for kale? Well, I had a slight bit of a minor crisis last week. You know those days when you feel a little fat? I had that.. the entire week. Eating ice cream every day since I got here probably had something to do with it (NAH), but I think some food poisoning and the Chinese pharmacy’s complete refusal to give me Western medicine (it didn’t help that the pharmacist was wearing an ancient smoke contraption on her shoulder) rendered me unable to move for the latter part of the week. So upon finding a vegetarian health restaurant, I jumped at any chance at anything with a remnant of kale. I can feel myself returning to my normal self. It’s hard to eat healthy here, or follow my old diet of salad and sadness, but between the noodles and the xiaolongbao a little kale went a long way.
[I’m keeping this post short. I’ve been without internet in my apartment for the last 5 days and I have many news (read: Buzzfeed articles and The Atlantic) to catch up on.]