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All that anticipation. Of all the people we shall see, the places we shall go, the things we shall do. Now all laced in memory.

I have a terrible memory – I have to rely on friends to remind me of what happened in high school, college, and post-college respectively. My mother is also a good source. I am always amazed at older people who can remember specific conversations or detailed incidents from their distant past, as my grandmother did or Omi still does. They say it’s the short-term memory that becomes weaker. Well, I suppose I will lose both one day. But the feelings – the joy or sorrow, the excitement or anxiety, the anticipation or dread, will remain – prompted by hundreds of photographs and journal entries which the new digital age should protect for many years to come.

After two weeks of NY, North Carolina, and Philadelphia (in that order), Patrick and I touched down in Shanghai on Sunday afternoon, August 12th. The whole time it felt as though we should be returning to Austria. Shanghai is apparently not yet home. I actually found myself longing for my bed in Hernstorferstrasse 27/58. I turned to Patrick and said, “I could never do the 2-3 year expat routine in furnished housing.” I think I am “settled” enough now (nice way of saying “old”) to want some key items along for the ride: my own mattress, sofa, and  study desk/chair (I am adding these for Patrick’s sake).
Gone are the days that I could shift from one dormitory to the next, one flat to the next, without a moment’s hesitation!

The days, weeks in the US passed us by. I felt like I was in my own version of Four Weddings and a Funeral – only there were only two weddings, one funeral, and several new arrivals. The weddings were very merry, the couples well suited, and the celebrations worthy of our very special friends. The funeral was unexpected and tragic, a loss of a dear family friend at the age of 67 survived by his loyal son who had to fly in from overseas to not only mourn but also console his mother and take care of all necessary responsibilities. The arrivals refer to the children of my childhood friends, Deborah (who still has three months to go), Maggie, and Melissa. Life in both its pain and glory – throughout there was one common denominator though: LOVE.

In closing, I would like to thank someone I love dearly for making this vacation a dream come true (sorry, I have listened to one too many wedding toasts): my brother, Alpay. Those of you who don’t know him, you are missing one of the biggest hearts and greatest senses of humor humankind has to offer. He not only accompanied us on our tour of NY and NC, but he also drove endless hours for our sake, and took two precious days off work only to spend them doing what he loathes most: shopping. He took the place of our mother and father, whose shoes are not easy to fill. So I toast to you, Alpay, the best host in the tristate area and a new Philadelphian. I hope you enjoy your home and have many happy days there.