It's my last evening here in Beijing. I have had a full day of packing - I seriously don't know how I have this much stuff. I came over with two large suitcases, full, but certainly not bursting, and I'm going home with those same suitcases ripping at the seams (seriously - I think we need to buy some new luggage, Shannon - sorry!) and a duffel bag also overflowing, plus my computer bag and carry-on.
It took a lot of jiggering and rejiggering to make it work. Just as I was starting to get it under control, I got a call from work, telling me they were couriering a goodbye gift to me. Naturally, I'm flattered and grateful - but it turned out to be a glass-fronted shadowbox with miniature Beijing Opera masks in it, about two feet wide, 15 inches tall and five inches deep. Very cool, but I can't exactly put it in a pocket. So one bag got pulled apart, another got stuffed a little more, and I made it work - as my sister is fond of saying whenever we have to load a car or truck, "Always plenty of room!"
Right now I'm having dinner. I ordered in Annie's Italian, so I'm dining on chicken tortellini, a Caesar salad and garlic bread. In a little while I'm going to meet some friends for a drink at Frank's (only one - I have a VERY early day tomorrow) and then it's to bed for the last time in Beijing. I'll wake up at 4:30, shower, make my last blog post from Beijing and a car is picking me up at 5:45. Flight takes off at 9:05 local (8:05 pm on the 15th back in Minneapolis), and a mere 17 hours later I'll be home!
Mixed feelings, to be sure. I'll miss the energy and the feeling that I'm doing something adventurous. But I look forward to wife, family, friends, dog, clean air, driving and water I can drink from the tap. Oh, and HAVING A CLUE ABOUT WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON AROUND ME.
See you soon!