Last night I returned to Shanghai after a six-day trip to Shanxi. Due to weather conditions, our flight was delayed for about three hours. When we finally landed at Hongqiao Airport shortly before 11pm, I was so relieved to be home.
During the trip to Shanxi, I shared a room with a family friend who is the mother of a teenage boy. On one of the nights, she shared with me an ambitious list of places she wants to visit. Just as I was wondering how she would be able to visit them all, she told me her travel philosophy. “It doesn’t matter if I physically visit those places, as long as my heart travels there,” she said. When I protested, she explained most people travel by physically visiting a place but leaving their hearts behind.
At that moment, I wondered where my own heart was. Shanxi was a mini trip within my year-long stay in Shanghai and I have to admit my heart has not been with me this entire time. I had dreamt about Shanghai; I had walked the streets of San Francisco imaging I was in Shanghai. But adjusting to living in Shanghai has been more difficult than I imagined and I find myself missing my life in the Bay.
Last week, Typhoon 海葵 (“Sea Anemone”) hit the city the day before our scheduled flight to Shanxi. While I gaped at the sheets of rain and raging wind, the locals continued their daily routines as if nothing was amiss. When I told my dad the wind sounded like a wild beast trying to use every nook and cranny to gain access into the house, he asked me if there were typhoons where I lived. No, I said, only earthquakes. If I can brave a 4.3 magnitude earthquake at 5 am alone in my apartment, then a little wind shouldn’t intimidate me at all.
A new environment naturally requires some adjustment. I can’t ask the city to change for me, I can only adapt to the city. I love Shanghai, even with the typhoons and the endless summer heat.