Seven Days

Published 2007-06-25

We’re entering the pre-move period, familiar from a year ago, when we are no longer excited about leaving but rather just want the whole damn thing to be over with already.

Leaving Xiamen is not like leaving Portland (only in reverse). For example, I am not often struck by emotions of bittesweetness: “I sure will miss this...” Which is funny considering the likelihood of our ever returning to Xiamen is pretty low So when I think “this might be the last time I walk through Shiting Lu,” it really is the last time I will walk through Shiting Lu. On the other hand, yeah there are things I actually will miss from our year here. Off the top of my head: Huweishan park, the noodle bar, our maid Yalian, travel to Hong Kong, learning Chinese, the romance of living the expat life. But the hassle of moving (read: “the hassle of moving Bismarck”) and my psycho-crazy last week at work kind of swamp both the bitter and sweet.


Xiamen is putting on its best face for us before we leave. We had a couple of farewell events this weekend: a doggy play date at Dongdu Park with all of Bismarck’s dog-friends, and a surprise party at a fantastic wine bar owned by a Malaysian couple. The weather is brilliant. Saturday was fiercely hot, clear and sunny in a manner unprecedented in our year in Xiamen. The air had a startling clarity, such that you could make out the second mountain range on the mainland (about 30 miles away), something that has occurred only once previously in my memory.

Sunny and hot In the clear air, distances seemed shorter (or rather, more like my sense of distance and scale from back in America). I had noticed the reverse of this phenomenon shortly after we moved here. Huweishan (the hill just behind our apartment) seemed impossibly tall when viewed from the lake; my sense of scale was that it must be at least as tall as the West Hills in Portland (500' to 700'), and correspondingly farther away. In fact, it’s only a little more than 300 feet at its tallest. To my eyes (accustomed to clear American air), the thick air makes even relatively small, nearby landmarks seem larger and farther away than they actually are.