Home is a funny idea. What is it exactly? A place? A sensation? Possibly a complete narration of the mind.
When I left the country where I was born, being in unfamiliar surroundings meant rebirth over and over again. You walk through a ring of fire and arrive to the other side, blemished a tiny bit, but doused in the baptist waters of renewal.
Tackling that foreign pronunciation on your tongue, while the native food stings your taste buds. Oh, the smells! That always get me, those competing odours of a country that sometimes seem familiar but then don’t.
So coming home (again, that word) was a doorway to old, yet new discoveries for me.
I keep forgetting to wash my hands after using the restroom because with public toilets in China, there is no soap. Anywhere. Don’t panic! I do remember more often than not now.
I keep forgetting to tip, so I seem like a jerk when I don’t.
I started talking to myself out in the open the other day. It was a habit I fell into because nobody could understand me and I could get away with it in China. Not anymore, crazy bag lady.
The cure I mentioned a while ago was Via Rail Canada. Lots of people don’t know what this train trip is about.
Some people mistake it for a commuter trip or a waste of time. They’d rather take the bullet train in Japan.
A Via Rail experience is a journey. It’s slow, considered. Meditative. On top of it, the journey continually offers some of the best views of Canada.
I didn’t think it was going to be a life changing experience, but it kind of was. It was better than I expected and allowed me to acclimatize to this country I once called home and still do.
Oh, the questions. They just keep coming and coming.
What is your book about, Jeannie?
A total, ultimate, complete guide to travel? EVERYTHING? With graphs! Charts! 3-D photos that require those blue and red glasses which will fall apart in the wash because you put em’ in your back pocket and shoot, they are made of cardboard.
… And the pitter patter of time rolls on as silence descends.
I began in Beijing, it was only fitting to end there.
China has wonders to behold and one is the high speed railway, considered to be one of the fastest around and the others are spread far and wide, from mountains that bend the imagination to sacred temples where only whispers are heard, but the biggest seat of China is Beijing.
Emperors have risen and tumbled, the communist party made it the center of policy and culture, which continues to thrive to this day.
Leaving after a long period somewhere is always tough, but as the train shot away from Wuxi towards Beijing and the speed picked up to 310 km/h, I felt airy. A feeling that surprised me. I detected no traces of sadness, but relief.
A new adventure was upon me and the sameness of where I just came from evaporated. I had slipped into a pair of familiar, safe shoes.
To be blind to what was ahead, to stop looking backwards — there’s nothing like it is there? That swell of discovery.
I arrived in Beijing a cool 7 hours later and though it was the dark of night, I checked into my hotel which was a few blocks from Tiananmen Square and hit the pavement quickly, walking the streets with vigour.
I had become an uncaged animal tasting freedom for the first time, but hadn’t realized that the chains of Wuxi were so tight, so suffocating. It was right to leave.
Below are a collection of photos from my short time in Beijing.
I want to thank you.
For being patient.
There’s been quite a few changes around here hasn’t there?
Maybe… possibly… you’re toying with chucking me to the curb.
First she redesigned the look of her site after 3 years.
Suddenly she’s speaking in public? Gross.
Now she’s opened a bookstore to empower women and crap.
Ugh, what’s next? How else will she annoy her subscribers and followers?
By bringing you more.
People have been asking over and over again: are you going back to China?
The resounding answer: NO!!!
Mentally I am done with China, but as I said in a past post, even when a place or person isn’t good for you anymore, you tend to cling to it.
Cause often the unknown is worse. Yet, several years ago I trained myself to embrace the unknown, that it’s part of the cycle. So I went. Packed up a 62 L bag and tossed whatever things I accumulated in China by selling them or leaving the rest behind.
It was bloody liberating. It’s amazing how much one can horde in a 2 year period. Being in China seemed to be about learning those lessons again. Let go of material possessions. Gather the unknown close to your bosom and jump. GO.
So, here I am again, back home after 2 years of being gone. And it’s weird. An odd feeling that is familiar but so strange.
Sometimes life puts you in interesting positions.
Let’s say the top speechwriter in Washington calls you up, willing to finally give you that big break.
After I delivered my opening keynote speech, I winced a little because I didn’t know what the reactions would be. A part of me sunk, thinking, crap, what if they hated me?! Thought it sucked butt.
But it was immediate. The beautiful energy of WITS shone through, woman after woman came to me and said, “Jeannie, your speech, oh my god, it was like you were talking about my life. ME. I related to it so much! Thank you!”
These reactions made me proud to deliver a speech that set the tone for WITS.
So, what if it’s you? The call came for you and is waiting for your answer?
How do you start writing that brilliant speech that will bring people to their knees? (In worship of you, of course.)