It’s My Birthday…And I’ll Reminisce if I Want To!

After work today, I had my last class with my Chinese teacher, who’s become one of my best Chinese friends here; then I invited her and her boyfriend for dinner. To my delight, they’d secretly arranged a wonderful cake with candles and even a little cardboard hat. Being 44 and headed demnaechst for a locale which is rather less stable than 北京, I allowed myself to walk all the way home with that cardboard crown on my head. Feeling silly has its merits on occasion.

The week has highlighed the joys and sadnesses of my current life. With my friend and tennis opponent from the Venezuelan embassy for a final lunch on Monday, along with one of his colleagues and her daughter, I had the unique pleasure of observing American influence on the world as all three spontaneously started singing along with the Bee Gees in our Indonesian-Burmese restaurant, “How deep is your love, I really need to know…’cuz we’re living in a world of…” You get the idea. Yes friends, I managed NOT to join the chorus. Had it been Abba, all bets are off…but then that’s Swedish cultural imperialism, ain’t it? 🙂

I’m also very sad. True, adrenaline junkies R Us here at “so much world, so little time.” But I’ve put down roots here. I’m truly going to miss Ditan Park, biking to the gym for my morning swims, an office where I know the ins and outs, and the increasing joy of actually understanding a lot of those street signs! And I’m sad to leave Catherine, 石灿, Davey, Linda, Paul LB, Yuning, Nico, Ahsong and Michelle and all my Nanning colleagues.

On the other hand…the island nation of Sri Lanka awaits me, a land I’ve heard and fantasized about since my college years. Testing my ability to walk the walk. Seeing more of this world. That little kick in my stomach to know MSF trusts me with what’s surely a more challenging spot than where I’ve been so far.

So I say thank you for the memories. (Identify that line if you can. Yup, that’s ABBA, friends. Sweden rules!) Early faltering efforts, last September, at some form of outreach in Nanning have blossomed into an impressive poster and postcard campaign informing the most excluded populations in and around Nanning that we’re there and encourage them come in and get tested so they can get treated if necessary, and stay healthy and productive. (Honestly, I’ve often felt like I’m back in NYC in the 1980s, the difference being now ARVs have rendered AIDS a chronic, rather than usually fatal disease, if treatment is available. Give to your local MSF chapter in order to keep treatment coming for the millions and millions internationally that need it!) Training in Bangkok gave me a chance to explore Ayuthaya with Anthony – good old Anthony, from the good old days on the NYFR running gear committee. Hell I’ma get maudlin soon! And I will never, no never, forget the beauty of Labrang Monastery and Xiahe in Gansu, or walking Tiger Leaping Gorge with Howard and Gene.

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