The following is a guest post written by my beautiful friend Ruth. We share a mutual love for travel, fancy cocktails, good books, and organization. You can find more of her writing and pictures on her blog, No. 17.
My co-worker recently nicknamed us “the hosts of China.” In the 11 months that we’ve lived in Shanghai, we’ve had four sets of visitors. Each time, we’ve given a little tour of our favorites – favorite restaurants, neighborhood walks, best happy hours – small pieces of the routines that make up our life across the world.
Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city, but China overall is very much still developing. Living here, there are days when we want so badly to just be home. To have things work like they do at home, and to be able to know exactly what to expect when things go wrong. When the facade has worn thin, the power goes out in our apartment (and no one else’s) for the third time that month, and our Mexican food craving is out of control, a plane ticket home sounds like a glass of ice water on a 90 degree, 95% humidity kind of day (which, by the way, is a typical summer day in Shanghai).
Those visits from friends and family? Lifesavers. I literally cross days off my calendar counting down the minutes until these visits. Each one is a breath of fresh air, a reminder of home, and the chance to look at life through a different lens for a couple of days. It’s surreal at first, seeing familiar faces in an unfamiliar place.
Living across the world, we’ve learned to make the world a smaller place. We’ve learned about relationships that stretch across geographical boundaries, and we’re grateful for the family and friends who have taken the opportunity not just to see a new place, but also to visit with us – to set down their must-see lists for the afternoon and wander around our neighborhood.
A couple weeks ago, we left Shanghai to fly to Paris for a former roommate’s wedding in Versailles. We’ve been to Paris before, but it was a whole new experience this time – more personal, more authentic. It was a reunion of college friends and a celebration of new stages in life: a wedding, an engagement, an anniversary. What I loved most about that trip – and what I love most about having visitors in China – is the opportunity for shared experiences. Whether it’s having happy hour together on a rooftop overlooking the Bund in Shanghai or brunch in a crowded alleyway on the Left Bank, these moments are bound to a special place and a special time in our lives. And even more, the world is not as large as we make it out to be.