Eight years I've lived in Dalian. That's longer than I've lived continuously in any one place. A quarter of my life-- 11 years-- I've lived in China. 13 years if you include South Korea.
It's time for reflection, but what can I say? China seems normal-- like home to me, now. What has happened to me here is just life: meeting friends, working, getting married and having a child. So many memories. The best and worst times of my life. But to anyone else they will seem mundane, ordinary.
So many memories:
Hiking on Big Black Mountain. Lunch after church in Taiyuan, with 20 people, each ordering a different dish. Wild nights in Itaewon and Five Colour City. Our wedding in Xi Lin. The birth of my son and watching him take his first steps. Going to the 'hua hua ti" (slide) with him. 5,000 students. A few-- especially kindergarteners Alice and Connie-- who touched my heart. Travel by bus, train, ferry, airplane and car to more than 30 provinces of China. Taking the Trans-Siberian across Russia. The dark days of SARS and depression. The thrill of buying our first home, and renovating it. Scraping by on $500 a month, and later earning almost $5,000 in one month. And back to poverty again.
As the old song goes: "What a long, strange trip it's been."