the people square

a community serious about adventuring

The Last Ride

china metro station

The amber lights make me hurry. I don’t know how to say excuse me yet so I resort to nudging and bumping my way down the escalator of people enjoying their unmoving movement.  I wish I had taken the stairs.

The beeping of the lights sound counting the final seconds echoes my heart’s beating desperation.  Bag, coffee, umbrella, I could have let go of them at any moment, but I hang on feeling them tug and snag on legs and knee caps. The white and green stripe begins to converge and somehow I make it past the guillotine quick doors.

There is nowhere to sit today, so I stand in the nook of the metro door. I don’t mind standing, from here I get to do some people watching to keep me occupied for the next 25 minutes. I wish there was a job that paid you to people watch, I think to myself. Then I remember that’s what spying is. I could be a spy I think and smile to myself. Today is my last day of work. My smile grows bigger at the thought.

Nine months and a week ago today, was the first time I stood in this subway nook; the exact same place, the exact same metro car. I gripped my coffee a little stronger that day. It wasn’t the teaching that made me nervous, it was the students. Teaching adults, I had done, but little kids, never. I hoped they would like me. I’d have to make sure to have lots of stickers on hand.

Some of them cried, some of them game me hugs or kissed my hand. Some classes made me want to walk out and never come back, others made me never want to leave. For some kids, I was their first English experience, for others, I was just another teacher that had come and would go again soon.  For them, it was an opportunity to learn English. For me, it was an opportunity to experience culture, and a language if I was open. It was very much a two-way street; the teaching them was teaching me.  The bell sounded putting an end to the games and laughter for that day. I’d never forget the sound.

The amber lights blare again telling us to move on. With each stop, comes the end to each fleeting thought. More people flood into the car against the grain of people departing. The ebb and flow of the metro car soothes me. People coming and going; this metro car feels like the heart of the city, pumping in and out its streams of bodies.

Some faces are the same, some are different.  I wonder if after nine months any of them recognize me. Many of them stare and I bashfully look away. Even after all of this time, their eyes and stares make me uncomfortable.  I close my eyes and think that for however uncomfortable this place makes me feel, it makes me feel alive. I grip my coffee like I did that first day. I’m going to miss it here; I’m going to miss China.

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2 comments on “The Last Ride

  1. Karina
    November 24, 2011

    You are done in China now? Where are you headed next?….I have to say that I will pretty excited if your answer is home 🙂

    • mr.and.mrs.excellent.adventure
      November 25, 2011

      hey mama k, in china until the end of january. but finished up work in on december 31st. off to the philippines next week. in january we will stay in shanghai, but do some trips to beixing and xi’an. we’ll enjoy more of shanghai. it’s an exciting city. at the end of january we’ll head to indonesia and then india. we’re not sure where we’ll go after that, but maybe some parts of the middle east (saudi arabia) and hopefully morocco. plan to be home around september…and maybe just in time for someone’s birthday 😉 xoxo give a big hug to the little man for me.

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