An old flame
There was a moment on Saturday, during my 36 hour trip to Beijing, that I felt right at home again. I was sitting at the bar at First Floor with my all-time favorite bartender Jack just across from me, the Saturday DJ blasting the same lineup of songs he always did.
I worried that Beijing would forget about me and move on, but nothing about it changed, really. Friends left and relationships changed, sure, but the environment was exactly the same. Sanlitun was as rowdy and crowded as I’d ever seen it, Nanluoguxiang as laid back as ever. I was able to take the subway without second thought as to where I was going, and the automated-ness of it all made it feel like I was cheating on Shanghai with Beijing. Old habits never die.
But the pollution — oh God, the pollution. I broke up with Beijing for many reasons, pollution being one of them. I never thought about how depressing it was until I made the move to Shanghai. Being forced to stay indoors and watch dust blocking the sun more often than not gave me cabin fever I never realized I had. This was only reconfirmed after my return flight, which had taken off from Beijing in a dusty haze, landed in a perfectly sunny and blue-skied Shanghai yesterday morning.
I also happened to leave Beijing 4 months ago. So take all this moody, nostalgic longing with a grain of salt.