Strangely, New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays, and yet I almost never wax nostalgic about the year gone by. I usually tend to reflect on the absurdity of how we measure the passage of time and about just how arbitrary it is. I even had a long discussion with my girlfriend about why Christmas falls on December 25 and why the West decided to measure the passage of time using the complicated Gregorian calendar as opposed to the exceedingly simple and vastly more logical Lunar Calendar.
That got me thinking about our species’ seemingly-universal desire to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Then it got me thinking about how our chosen political systems just lay on top of these seasonal celebrations, constantly changing their names but keeping the timing and activities mostly in tact.
I get distracted easily, as you can tell.
These past few years I have come to measure my own “years” around August. That’s the time of year that I moved to China and woke up to life. So I’m already through the first five months of my own personal 2011. And I have to say that as wonderful and amazing as my life has been in the first two years, this third year is already the best yet, and I’ve got great hopes of it getting even better.
For the calendar-conscious folks I will note that in 2010 I made 2 trips to the US (to go along with another trip that I made in October of 2009). These trips solidified for me that I am D-O-N-E with the US for the foreseeable future. Right now I’m making plans for travel through the end of 2012 and the US is nowhere on my radar. And even though I’m not conceiving of any specific plans for 2013 (it’s hard to think beyond the London Olympics) there are at least a half dozen people and places higher on my “To Visit” list than Boston or any other American city.
In short, anybody from home who wants to see me in the foreseeable future will have to travel to my side of the globe.
The first of my two trips to the US was for my buddy Bryan’s wedding. I got to see almost all of my closest friends from back home and my baby brother. I also got to introduce them all to my girlfriend, Alya. I gave her a tour of my home town. We had an awesome, almost storybook week. But at the end of it all, I realized that I did not want to come back. After two trips in 10 months I had satisfied any feelings of nostalgia and there was a conspicuous absence of homesickness. I missed my friends, but I didn’t miss being back there.
I made a point to tell folks that this would be it for me for a while. I posted all over my Twitter and Facebook about it, too. But wouldn’t you know it, at a meeting with my boss at work a few weeks later he drops a bomb on me: I was being sent to Cleveland in 1 week for a 15-day stint in the home office.
As unenthusiastic as I was about making this journey just 1 month after having said my emphatic goodbyes to my homeland, it presented a pretty awesome professional opportunity and has opened up a lot of doors for me within the company. So I can’t say that it was a waste of a trip or that I am sorry that I went. I even had a bit of fun. (Thanks for coming to visit me, Kara!) But if I had any lingering feelings of longing for the US, Cleveland snuffed them out completely.
The next big milestone for me came in late September when I jetted off to Moscow to spend time with Alya and to meet her family. Not only was this a necessary trip personally (Alya had said that she would not move to Beijing unless I made a trip to Moscow first), but it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Ever since I was a little kid growing up during near hysteria of the Cold War I had always wanted to see Moscow. I used to fantasize of walking through Red Square. Well, I got to do it, and with a lovely Moskovite on my arm to boot!
Then, finally, November came and by the middle of the month Alya was in Beijing with me. A couple of weeks after that my visa was renewed for another year and then we hit Christmas… To say that the past 6 weeks have been a whirlwind end to the calendar year of 2010 would be putting it mildly.
So here we are. I’ve just wrapped up a 4-day long holiday break and our collective, arbitrary measuring tools say that we begin now anew. I’m happy with how things went during our recently-completed journey around our unremarkable star. Here’s hoping that the next one will be even better!