Shanghai is an enormous city. Just saying that does it no justice. It feels like you can drive in any direction for an hour and continue to see giant highrise apartment buildings as far as the eye can see.
We got to the neighborhood that Aiyun's mom lives in. Her name is Chen Long Ying. Women in China keep their family names after marriage. Aiyun's full name is Zhou Aiyun. Zhou was her father's family name. This is the complex where her mom and brother both live in Shanghai.
Her apartment was very small. A bathroom, bedroom, and an kitchen area. I was able to remember my line in Chinese to greet her properly. Hao gao xing jian dao ni. This is how you say it's a pleasure to meet you. Handshake. No hugs.
Her mom had been having issues with her phone. I can totally relate. Aiyun's mom is the exact same age as mine, 84. I haven't been able to reach my mom for the last two weeks. Her phone is either in silent mode or uncharged on a regular basis. We took her mom's phone to a local mobile phone shop and the man their was able to change the settings and help us out. After we got that fixed we went out to lunch.
Our restaurant was in the Sichuan style. A bit spicy, but was less hot than I would have guessed. Call it flavor, not heat. We all liked the egg fried rice best. We chatted and laughed. Conversation through an interpreter is never easy, but all was pleasant. She accepted my hug before we departed. Displays of affection in China aren't a thing. She was noticeably emotional after and it was a good first meeting. Aiyun was very happy. I'm glad it went well.
We hit our hotel to take a nap and relax. Our plan was to explore the Bund area and maybe grab dinner. Aiyun had not been there in twenty years. She told me it has changed drastically since she was last there. We arrived just as the riverfront was getting stupid crowded. A solid wall of people for miles along the river.
The lights of Shanghai come to life at 7:00pm and we arrived at about 6:45pm. A lot of the crowd was parked on the ground or steps to sit and watch all the lights come on.
I totally should have taken more pictures beforehand. Such a difference when it gets lit up. I guess the picture of the crowd above shows some dark buildings in it.
After the light show we dropped into the Waldorf Astoria for a drink and a snack in their bar. Neither of us were very hungry after a large breakfast and lunch.
We're not heavy drinkers, but we both enjoy the occasional fruity cocktail. Mine was the berry liqueur concoction and she had the lemon whiskey fizz.
We made it back to our hotel and Aiyun wanted to pose in front of the lobby sculpture/fountain. We both were significantly buzzed after one drink. We're major lightweights.
Such a happy character. I'm super glad we've met. I don't want to make the mistake of saying we make each other happy. I don't believe one person can make another happy. We're both already happy on our own and we're choosing to share that happiness.
We're not delusional. A year from now I I'll be back in the states getting ready to start another year at Meridian High School. We've discussed possibilities for a future together and what that would look like. She has a good job here at Wartsila and a better second job teaching English. If she were to give that all up we would need to work hard to make sure she has financial security and a sense of meaningful purpose in her work. When I've asked her about what would be most important for her to feel secure it involves her work and financial security. I respect that and I'm trying hard to listen and hear what she's telling me. I can say I've tried to be a good listener in the past, but the fact is I'm not. My efforts now revolve around being an active listener. I'm remembering to repeat what I've heard and ask clarifying questions.
So, what's going here? We're learning about each other. We're mapping out the next few months together in our calendars including a trip to Xian. We're talking about what a future together would look like. To be updated.