Saturday, May 26, 2012

Goodbye Shanghai

My company didn't want to pay to have my belongings shipped to Beijing so instead we agreed that the four of us flying up (I'm the only permanent post) would just check all of my earthly possessions and everyone else would go carry on. Today I broke down and bought an extra box to ship. In it I've packed a juicer, hiking boots, a massive pink cosplay wig, two bags of Yunnan-roasted coffee, my copy of North Korean monster film Pulgasari and my Chinese homework, plus some clothes and books. Necessities, all. 

Packing is exhausting. I came to Shanghai with two huge bags. Two months ago, I sent my little brother back to the States with two even huger bags and I've already packed three sizable bags for Beijing. Now my apartment is fairly empty and if someone asked me to make an itemized list of what's in these bags, I wonder if I could remember even a quarter of it. I don't think I'd be that sad if one or two didn't make it to their final destination. I guess I don't care that much about most of my stuff, but it's comforting most of it is coming north with me. I'm still probably going to have to buy a new comforter and some dishes and a coffee pot. On a somewhat related note, I sent these shoes home with my brother. By my count, they've crossed the Pacific Ocean at least four times. I will also be hand carrying a tube of Mao-Era propaganda posters I bought at the Shanghai Propaganda Museum to Beijing, then I will hand carry them to Taiwan in July when I visit James and he will hand carry them back to the good old USA. Those are definitely some of my most precious possessions. Just a moment ago James walked over and put my ceramic sunflower seed (from Ai Weiwei's project) on the coffee table and reminded me not to forget it. To celebrate the demolition of his Shanghai studio, Ai Weiwei (who was barred from coming down from Beijing for the event) had folks feed everyone who showed up river crabs and gave away art books and seeds, Jess went and brought me back a seed.

Last night my editorial team here had a big night at our favorite wine bar. Right as we sat down, my photographer nudged me and pointed out that one of my subjects from my very first cover story was also in the bar. I said hi to the guy, turns out he too is moving up to Beijing this week, to launch a startup. People are always leaving Shanghai. It's just that kind of city. 

I managed not to get too emotional saying goodbye to everyone, because I knew if I did I'd probably be a big blubbery mess. Our photographer put together a compilation of photos he's amassed over the last two years of all of us on the job. They're wonderful. It was the best send off gift. If I muster the patience, I may try to post some of the photos here later.

I've had a great two years. I had a job that I loved and I got to work with a team of fun people that I genuinely liked. Other people in our company have mentioned how often they hear laughing from the editorial department. I'm sure we have the loudest office, and also the most fun one. I feel like my adult life really got started in Shanghai. I will remember this as a happy stretch where I grew a lot and wrote a lot and saw a lot and did it all in very fine company.  

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