WiFi! I really wanted to connect to you tonight, at the Uptown Social in Georgetown, but you are password secured (unbelievable). I'm glad I checked though, because as I scrolled down the list of available WiFi networks, I found that my phone still had all of the networks I used while in China, saved. And I can't help but think about...
"Tommy Boy on Hong Fu Lu," where Karen and I would runaway from our insane job to get our 65 RMB coffee. The shop was more like a broom closet located under a set of stairs in a strange, "Harry Potter" way, but those baristas sure knew how to make one insanely good coconut latte. Coffee in China was so expensive! And yet... we splurged if just for the excuse of not being near the people we worked with, of finding something that reminded of us home--escape. We could curl our hands around those paper cups, close our eyes, forget about the absurd humidity of the subtropics, and pretend we were home-- just for a moment.
"Visionshop," which, much like many other places I frequented, had a name surely pulled directly from some frightening translator. This bike (the two wheels and pedals kind), shop was frequently converted into a cigar lounge when guests came to find the good stuff (Cubans!). Also laced with a variety of other dainties (mind you not the kind I wanted but certainly the kind that inspired odd questions and odd behavior), was a regular crowd pleaser, and I can remember the first time I went in, and the proprietor, Johnny, did his utmost to make me feel at home. There it is again, that feeling of home.
"OFTR visitor optical," again, I can't vouch for the person who named the WiFi network, but One For The Road was an awesome Irish themed bar designed specifically for expats. I remember when I first arrived in Dongguan and Bathabile, my roommate, took me around to show me some of the local haunts-- this was the first one. Initially, I couldn't for the life of me understand why someone would want to put a bar that looked and felt so distinctly western, in China. I scoffed at it, reminding my roommate that I came to China to be in China, not some recreated version of the same Irish pub every moderately sized city in America has. OFTR was very much that wooden floor, Irish propaganda on the wall, very classic rock on the radio, and dishes such as fish n' chips. It was like stepping out of China and back in the Irish Snug on Colfax in Denver--except that all the employees were these sweet Chinese girls. As time wore on, I found reasons to hit up OFTR, though. Reasons to step foot back on familiar soil.
"Glenn's WiFi," the most amazing couple I met in China, hands down. Glenn and Miao showed me around the real China. They gave me dirt roads, crumbling brick walls, memorial sites, giant and very sad historical trees-- they showed me CHINA. Not just the quickly growing western influence, not just the big areas and the expat hot-spot, they showed me streets, alleyways, culture. They showed me exactly what I came to find out about.
So here I sit at the Uptown Social, looking out into the night sky, admiring the stars and remembering that this is the same sky, and these are the same stars I found myself gazing at from the garden just outside my apartment in Nancheng. DG I miss you!