Yet Shanghai has provided a strange comfort and familiarity. As I left the office today the air was heavy with pollution and humidity. The scent of sewage mixed lightly with that of fried noodles and Shanghai’s characteristic sweet & oily sauces. It sounds strange but it was redolent with the promise of adventure, of Friday nights spent wandering in the warm dusk, of weekend galleries & parks.
I can’t recall dad ever telling me he’d wish I’d settle down. The first half of his life was spent in frequent moves, so maybe he understood this more than most. And he certainly liked to travel.
When he died, it felt like there was this immense external pressure to move home, as if some people thought these past two years were a glorified vacation rather than a family’s life. I realize it was meant to be supportive, but I found it so isolating because it was a further reminder that one of the few people I never needed to explain myself to was gone.
So here I am, back in Shanghai, trying to sort out another round of life’s tangles. Knowing the stress I’d be returning to made it so tempting to just give up and not return, but we both decided we couldn’t do that to the cat. And maybe that’s why there was such strange comfort in the heavy scents of an urban dusk, a breath of the familiar cutting across my distracted mind.