Tag Archives: old friends

Friends across the sea

12 Nov

One of the wonderful things about all the travel I’ve done this year was the opportunity to see people that I don’t get to see very often.  As long as I know I’ll be in an area and have a little free time I will reach out to people to see if we can spend some time together.  This year was a new record for me.  I have been blessed with wonderful friends who are now scattered all over the world – I like to say that I “collect people” through my life, like the pearls of a necklace.

In February I got to spend a weekend with my sister in Austin, Texas between two sets of meetings for work.  The last time I was in town she was recovering from a knee injury – this time we enjoyed local barbecue at Rudy’s and took a long walk down by the river.  I would go back again for the barbecue in a second – and the banana pudding!  It was a great weekend.

Barbecue!  They even let us try samples before we ordered.

Barbecue! They even let us try samples before we ordered.

Nobody does barbecue like Texas!

Nobody does barbecue like Texas!

A couple of months later I was back in the States again and got to spend a weekend back in my hometown with my best friend and her kids.  We had hamburgers and ice cream and went to the park.  It was the quintessential American weekend – one of those days that made me wonder why I am still living in Shanghai so far away from friends and family and blue skies.  The weekend also made me thankful that I have the resources to travel and the experience to appreciate going home.

Blue skies at the park

Blue skies at the park

In June I managed to connect with a former colleague in the UK at Paddington train station in London before heading off to the airport.  We had a long brunch and traded stories since we had last seen each other, nearly a year before in Singapore.  She has now retired and looked fabulous – rested, relaxed with a bit of a tan.  I hope when I get to that phase of my life I have that many stories to tell.

At the end of June I was in San Francisco and managed to connect with many old friends – both at the actuarial conference that I attended,

An old friend from Chicago who worked in Hong Kong, visited me in Shanghai and went to the same conference in San Francisco.

An old friend from Chicago who worked in Hong Kong, visited me in Shanghai and went to the same conference in San Francisco.

but also a friend from Shanghai who moved back to Canada and was randomly in town for the weekend when I was there.  That connection even surprised me – we both put a photo on social media of the beautiful day in San Francisco and then realized our hotel rooms were on the same street!

Also in San Francisco I met up with a friend from Shanghai who lives there now.  She spent a day taking me to Fisherman’s Wharf where we had seafood and visited the famous Boudin bakery where I bought myself a sourdough roll.  We rode the trolley and explored the city – I even bought a T-shirt.  Sometimes being a tourist is the best way to see a city.

IMG_20140622_115227 IMG_20140622_133336

In July I had a friend come to me – Carissa from Everyday adventures in Asia.  She was in town for work and I was actually in Shanghai that week and volunteered my spare room.  We stayed up way too late to squeeze in every moment of time together  because neither of us know the next time we’ll have the opportunity.

And finally I managed to squeeze in a quick breakfast with an old friend from Shanghai who was in my first Chinese class at Miracle Mandarin when I was in Jakarta in August.  She’s Indonesian, married to an Australian who has lived in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Australia.  Her daughter was born in Shanghai and they moved a couple of years ago back to Jakarta.  We hadn’t seen each other since, but we connected as if we had seen each other the previous weekend.

We even remembered to snap a photo!

We even remembered to snap a photo!

Friends are that way – even when they are across the sea.  Shared experiences and special relationships come together to make a wonderful, welcoming place for me all across the world.  If you’re in my neck of the woods – I’m happy to welcome you too!

Do you have friends across the sea?

Coming full circle – an old friend in Shanghai

18 Aug
Catching up with a very good friend (and enjoying hot pot - hence the bibs)

Catching up with a very good friend (and enjoying hot pot – hence the bibs)

Last Friday my roommate when I first moved to Shanghai was back in town for 24 hours.  He had spent the last 6 weeks in Xi’an at a teacher training program and right before heading back to the US we had the opportunity to meet up for a very late dinner.

C was the impetus for why I moved to Shanghai in the first place.  We’ve known each other for over 10 years.  He was the one who put it into my head that teaching English in another country was a real possibility.  We explored Shanghai together before either one of us spoke any Chinese and stumbled through those first weeks as we found our place in this city.  The last time I had seen him was two years ago when he had been back once again for another learning opportunity.

We had dinner, tried to catch up on the many things that have happened over the last two years and reminisced about “our Shanghai” of six years ago.  In the last six years Shanghai has changed so much.  From four subway lines to 14, from 2 airport terminals to 4.  The city has become more international and also more generic – as they have knocked down or renovated many of the places that we used to go.  One that we especially mentioned is the original Wujiang Road where we first had dumplings.

It’s not just the city that has changed – we both aren’t the same either.  C went through more of a career change than I – now he’s teaching Chinese to grade school students.  I’ve gotten married and worked on projects all over Asia Pacific.  Both of us speak Chinese now and our perspective on the world has evolved as we have seen more.  We shared a parallel path for a while and now have forked into different directions.

No matter what path I take in the future, C is a friend I want to keep.  We may live a world apart for the time being, but if he ever says he has another “Great idea” – I’d be inclined to listen very carefully.  I am very happy we got to connect again in Shanghai this summer.

What friend do you wish was in town more often?  How do you stay in touch with people who at different points support you?  What’s the strangest idea that you’ve heard – and then done – because of a friend?

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