Monday, January 28, 2013

Random Journal Snippet: One Year Ago (1/6/2012)

I walked with speed and determination as I pushed the cart of groceries in front of me. I was not in the mood to check myself out on this particular trip to the store; and so began my search for a lane staffed by another human being. If it meant I would have to wait 10 minutes longer- I was okay with that.

As I scanned aisle after aisle, I realized that I wasn't the only one avoiding the self checkout lanes. What might have been 10 looked more like 20-30 extra minutes, and I was not in a place to give that time up to such frivolity. After a few observations, I was convinced that the seeming ineptness of every single cashier was actually part of a larger plot to "encourage" shoppers to choose the do-it-yourself lanes. I retreated to the lonely land of self checkout in disgust.

As I stood in line for what seemed an unreasonable amount of time, my eyes searched for something to entertain me. They landed on the gossip rags that surrounded me; and before I realized it- I was catching up on the latest Hollywood gossip. It occurred to me as I looked over the various headlines that I didn't recognize most of the people in them. It seemed the US had grown more obsessed with youth and some freaky family named the Kardashians while I was gone. Who the hell were the Kardashians anyway? Furthermore- why on earth did we seem to care more about their every move than what was going on in the rest of the world? When I could no longer take in the images or headlines pasted all over the magazine racks next to me, I widened my view and stared off at the signs and lights around me. It all felt so cold and foreign to me.

When I first arrived in Shanghai, I was overwhelmed with feelings of isolation at the strangest times. It was rarely in the quiet of my home that I encountered this sense of foreignness; but in the midst of the masses, grocery shopping, or surrounded by the hum of life and the glow of neon lights flashing all around. I remember longing for the warmth and familiarity of my home country at those times. And now I found myself standing in the midst of a similar coolness as I waited in line at the grocery store. A similar feeling of home sickness washed over me, and I found an almost cruel irony in the fact that the places I once deemed my "retreat- from- China" hideouts-were now the places I would go to feel like I was back "home" in Shanghai.

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