I left my girlfriend’s father’s sweltering apartment around 10:00, out into the bitter cold of Fushun in December. It’s the same city I always remembered. Two years later and the same things are under construction. Not much has changed except the people. I love this place.
Wearing too much, I built up a light sweat from the local bank where I retrieved RMB on a power-walk across the rail line towards Mingshi 1 and No. 50 Middle School. I found M1, but it was pretty abandoned. Only a secretary and two Chinese teachers. I learned that Michael, one of the American teachers, had gone to another city (maybe temporarily?); And Tracey, one of the Chinese teachers I had gotten pretty close with, had left the company altogether and gone to greener fields. If I understood them correctly, much of the old staff is still with the school, although I’m not certain. I went on to Leo’s to see if I couldn’t find the man himself, but he’s gone too. Opened up shop in Shenyang and now living there permanently, it seems.
I also get negative vibes from a lot of people I’ve reached out to. Maybe not negative, but certainly ambivalent. I guess that makes sense. We were all just coworkers, after all. I’m sure I put a lot more stake into my relationships with them than they did me. Many had been here for a long time, seen teachers come and go. I was just one of them. But, for me, they were very close. The furthest I’d ever been from home, alone, and they were the only people I knew in this strange land. Anyway, they don’t have much to do with me, they don’t have much to talk about with me. I get it. I guess it was odd of me to believe things would be otherwise. I’m not really sure what I was expecting.
I don’t know why I thought things would have time-capsuled themselves. Nothing ever does. I suppose I just kept things alive in my memory without regard to change. I shouldn’t be disappointed. Life goes on. We aren’t bugs in amber. I’m not upset about it, I just need to adjust my perspective.
It’s a beautiful, cold, polluted Fushun day. I have a camera and a coffee (from Leo’s). Damned if I don’t make the best of my time here, and do what I came here to do: document. Photograph. Record. I’m sure I’ll find familiar faces along the way. Just fewer than I’d expected.
Rendezvoused with my girlfriend at Leo’s and took a taxi to have some malaban (a hemp-spice mix dish) for lunch. Thereafter we stopped by a Watson’s convenience store for toiletries, found an 阿姨 to mend a broken zipper on my jacket, and went to a bogus Apple store to have my girlfriend’s phone SIM card cut to size. Walked back to the apartment and relaxed until dinner. I worked on photos and my girlfriend’s cousin and his girlfriend arrived to join us for Korean BBQ.
I was exhausted, running on large quantities of caffeine, but stayed out until around 01:00 local time catching up with an old friend over local beer. I brought him over here, and he’s doing famously. It’s great to hear. I brought a lot of people over here, the majority of them did not work out very well.