We are moving to Shanghai. This was a long decision process. My children are half Chinese but it’s the invisible half. They are as American as every other American around them. And they love America.
I will admit that I am probably biased. My children in my eyes are the embodiment of all the great American qualities and spirit that I admire. They are creative, they are care free, they are unafraid, are open, tolerant, sensitive, beautiful and bright. They love small town living.
It’s not like they can’t imagine living in Shanghai. In August they went with me to check out schools in Shanghai and got excited by a lot of things that they experienced there: Dinner above the clouds in one of the world’s tallest buildings, the brand new modern subway system, super grand impressive suspension bridges with amazing views of the Bund and Pudong, window shopping at fancy flagship luxury stores, extremely friendly hotel staff, the relocation agent that was always ready to help us… They know Shanghai is hot, cool, flashy, dazzling, exciting, the talk of the world, but they also know Shanghai is noisy, congested, confining, foreign and Shanghai offers nothing like small town living in America.
They loved their visit to Shanghai. But at the end of their trip, they were so happy to be just home again in America. As they put it: What do we see in Shanghai? – Another skyscraper. What do we have in America? – Parks, baseball fields, marshmallow and trick or treat…
I can’t blame them. How can I? This is almost exactly how I feel after each of my trips. The only difference is that I actually can appreciate both ends of the spectrum. Shanghai and Morristown, each awakens totally different senses of mine upon the thought of either place, nearing either place or living it.
As distance often makes our heart grow fonder, our love for this small town life has intensified especially since we started our preparation for departure.
On weekends I often walk with my children to the Green – our town center. My son has long declared that it’s his favorite place in town. The Green, surrounded by old and new buildings, offers a perfect harmony of beautiful gardens, seasonal decorations, and random people from all walks of life, each at a different pace. We often stop at our favorite local café Greenberry for a tea or a smoothie. Sometimes we go to the local creamery. We will run into the same strangers that we have seen before, or sometimes friends that we have not seen in a long time.
Sometimes we bike around the neighborhood, or we bike to the library and back. We breathe in fresh air. We feel the warmth of the sun, breezes of the season. We bathe in our bountiful and beautiful life.
Sometimes we sit on our porch and have an afternoon tea. We watch squirrels climb up and down our cherry trees in the backyard, we see maple leaves turn gold, orange, red and fall. We hear neighbors laugh while walking by our porch, with their children, dogs. They go to churches, or the community theater or they simply do what we do – enjoying this simple yet colorful life in a small town in America.
We can’t seem to get enough of it… And I know for sure, we will miss it even more when we feel lost in the crowds and excitement in Shanghai. I hope we will come back often to visit our small town, in person and in spirit. We will savour our memories of this beautiful life while we continue our journey and embrace our future.
My next blog in this column will be about the privilege of an American soccer mom. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts below in the comment section.