I’ve just traversed the vast majority of Shanghai’s International Airport by foot in an effort to find WiFi. While it may seem ridiculous to wander both floors of both terminals just to get wired, I am at the start of a 10 hour stay here at PVG. Joyce has informed me numerous times this week that I’ve “lost my stranger mojo,” and I’ve just done an excellent job of proving her point. Ubiquitous internet does exist here, but since I lack a Chinese cell number, I have no way of getting an activation code in order to use it. Unless I were to approach a stranger.
I’m looking forward to the adventure ahead, but all I can think about is the last two weeks. I visited the largest city I’ve every seen (24,000,000 people and counting!), traveled to a national park filled with landscapes I had only dreamed of, explored Shanghai by foot, bike, car, and subway, met one of the three “Shanghai sisters” and her beautiful family, experienced my first puzzle room, shared a bottle of wine on the Bund, and gazed at the lights of Pudong. When I talk about this trip in the weeks to come, these are likely some of the experiences I will share, but by far the most memorable and meaningful experience was simply spending time with Joyce and her family. It is one thing to meet your girlfriend’s parents, but spending two weeks as their guest is something else entirely.
During this trip, our time together began to feel familiar, and by the end of the two weeks I felt like I was with family. This morning we dropped Joyce off at the airport near their home. We all walked in together and talked with Joyce as she checked in and made her way to the security gate. My heart swelled when I realized that her parents intended to stand and watch until their daughter made her way through security and walked out of sight. This has long been a tradition with my family. Goodbyes are never easy, but turning around and seeing your loved ones savoring every last moment is the best part.