Any chance you want to grab dinner sometime during the summer? You’ll probably be all over the world, doing adventurous journalist things, weekends in DC, Cypriot ferries, nighttime border crossings, argumentatively destroying arrogant Foreign Affairs ‘experts’ on Fareed Zakaria’s show – a mix of things from the Bourne series and an International Studies major’s fantasy life. I will be in the US though, from July 18 – August 20, for the first time (by then) in over 13 months.
I’ve been living in Beijing for 8 months as of this writing and it is astonishing how rapidly the thrill of new environments disappears. Something about the human brain and its utilitarian habit of consigning familiar environments to barely registered short term memory means we rarely notice routine details after the flimsy veneer of novelty is gone. I’m sure DNA has something to do with it, science. Beijing has become a collection of familiar, comfortable landmarks, totemic corners, reassuring people and sounds and smells. Can joy and novelty be found within the contours of everyday mundanity? Sure, I believe it can, but its easier to miss when we grow accustomed to our surroundings.
I mean, not that I believe in the ‘exotic’ either (place or people). I’m not a neo-colonialist, or a paternalist, I’m not disappointed that people in China are by and large concerned with the same things their counterparts in other countries and cultures are. I don’t have Renaissance era maps with dragons and harpies looming around the borders of ‘civilization’ (Western Europe) hanging from my walls. I’m just saying it’s funny how almost instantaneously we adapt to new places.
But anyway – dinner? I’ve checked my schedule and, nope, no awards to accept, no far-flung assignments or guest appearances, so this summer should be a go! Take care.