Goodbye Beijing

My last night in Beijing was spent binge watching Once Upon a Time until I finished season two at five in the morning. I only stopped because I realized that I should probably start packing for my flight that was leaving in twelve hours. There is a method to my madness. You see, staying up until five in the morning in Beijing time is staying up until five in the evening in USA east coast time—getting a head start to overcoming jet-lag, overachieving already.

I’m writing this on a plane right now, but when you see this, I’ll have landed in Pennsylvania. During taxi and takeoff I took a nap, and now I’m forcing myself to stay up until my parents and I arrive at our hotel. My time has been utilized watching movies and drafting as many blog posts as I could, because who knows whether or not my schedule for the first few weeks of college will give me enough time to do this.

Catch Me If You CanA master of deception and a brilliant forger, Frank W. Abagnale netted himself millions of dollars in stolen funds. FBI Agent Carl Hanratty made it his mission to capture Frank, but Frank is always one step ahead of him, baiting him to continue the chase.

My PaparottiSang-jin, once a promising young singer, becomes a music teacher. His ordinary life is suddenly rattled when he hears student and teen gangster, Jang-ho singing. This is when he realizes the boy’s true talent and decides to help develop it.

Breakfast at Tiffany’sA young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building.

Brunch at Audrey’s has been around since September 30, 2013, the second quarter of my senior year of high school, and has impacted my year, my life(?), greatly. There’s a thin line between living to blog and blogging while living, and while I don’t always maintain a good balance between the two, living and blogging, I can confidently say that blogging has influenced my life in a positive way; I’ve taken a few risks, done more things out of my comfort zone, and created so many amazing memories during my last year in Beijing!

It is a bit unfortunate that I switched platforms from Tumblr to Blogger so late in the game, because all of my posts about Beijing are stranded on Tumblr. I’d plop all of them into this post, but I think that many events in the past year deserve their own post, including but not limited to art gallery adventures, busking on the streets, classy nights out, prom, project based learning, and my senior trip. For the next few days, I’ll be re-sharing those memories here, and today I’ll start with a post originally titled “oh how the tables have tabled,” where I said my goodbyes, but with a few amendments, because oh my how the months have flew!

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said, “I’m not a sentimental person,” and I’m starting to wonder if I’m repeating this to convince you or me. Maybe at heart I really am a sentimental person, and this mantra is just my way of coping with all of these “lasts.” Or maybe I really am just meh. Hm, I’m pretty sure that it isn’t all in my head. After the HFH Senior Farewell dinner, Kathleen and Kathy told me that just yesterday they were talking about how unsentimental I was. But wait. Let’s rewind to the beginning of my day.

Brunch at Maan Coffee with the Studio Ghibli fan club: Sheena, Nicole, Stephen, Kevin, Hojoon, and Philip! Our intention was to take the stress off from exams by eating waffles, enjoying each other’s company, and then getting right down to business studying our butts off for our last IB final.

But how often do you actually do work when you say you will? After eating--I split a mixed berry waffle (62 RMB) with Sheena, and everyone else got coffee, toast, or Paninis--everyone started playing poker, except for Nicole and me who did our best to focus. It was really hot where we were sitting, so somewhere in between, I ordered an iced hazelnut caramel latte, which came with sweet and crunchy bread sticks on the side. The latte was so delicious! Highly recommended. I guzzled it down like water.

Finally, I took a break. We all know how breaks go. They never end. Nicole, Hojoon, and Philip left, but Sheena, Stephen, Kevin, and I stayed, because we needed to go to a dinner together.

To pass the time, we played Contact:

The HFH ISB Campus Chapter Senior Farewell dinner was at Sasameyuki. And at the end it was time for our farewells. Ms. Kinsella and Mr. Panych, our HFH ISB Campus Chapter advisors, presented us with certificates and little glass bricks, the seniors got pink roses, and in true HFH tradition, we passed around a construction helmet to sign for our president, Cindy.

It was late. Everyone was stuffed, probably tired, and about to leave, but Ms. Kinsella and Mr. Panych had just given a whole thank you speech to us and it felt only polite to reciprocate, so before anyone could leave, I started talking loudly in a way that seemed to be directed at everyone, so I guess you could call it a speech. I really only conducted myself in that manner to get everyone’s attention quickly.

I had no idea where my train of thought was going. I wasn’t feeling anything but tired. I literally just talked and talked and then… I don’t know what happened. My eyes started welling up. It hit me out of nowhere. I didn’t even get that ache-y feeling in your chest when you miss someone. It hit me in the eyeballs (as opposed to the heart). Running through my head was, “WTF STOP AUDREY STOP.” I don’t remember if I said anything coherent, but I remember struggling to. I might have spluttered a “family,” “cute,” and “four years” somewhere. Remember how Gracie Hart made fun of all those pageant girls in the film Miss Congeniality and mocked the “I wish for world peace” speech, complete with hands fanning away at tears? Well, that was me, except I probably looked a lot more gross. Despite that slightly embarrassing teary-eyed moment, I’m glad that I changed my mind about going to this dinner.

In fact, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted time to stop right there. I knew that as soon as I got home, I’d fall right back into the evil clutches of reality where everything was sacrificed for academic achievement.

So we stayed! And for a second, time did stand still. Okay fine, two hours passed and we didn’t leave until 11:00PM, but you get my drift. There we were, three carefree girls swinging in the dark, talking about nothing, but everything at the same time. We shared stupid stories and delighted in the little things in life, but we also thought/worried about college, specifically finding friends and a community like the one we have here, and at times, we didn’t even talk at all, although that may partially have been due to the fact that we were swinging on tires and baby seats. This is exactly how I imagined high school would be: stimulating, adventurous, average, tumultuous, sophisticated, youthful, spontaneous, memorable.

Have you ever lived a storybook moment? Well, that’s what my whole night was.

Until now, my attitude towards the whole graduating and moving away thing has been, “FINALLY. THANK GOD!” I didn’t even write to anyone in my section of the yearbook senior pages. So without getting too mushy, here are some things I didn’t, but wanted to say:

To my teachers: I used to be thee model student, I swear. I haven’t made it easy for you guys over the last two years, so thank you for putting up with me, believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, and looking out for me beyond the classroom. I don’t think I’d have the patience to teach me.

To Impromptune: I’ve always been the youngest in the group, so I was really nervous about senior year. You’re a bundle of energy that never seems to need to recharge, and I can’t believe that before this year, many of you never sang in a choir before. You’ve really pulled through, and your excitement and passion for everything we do is extraordinary. Keep getting all the solos ;)

To the swim team: I’ve already retired for a year, but I’ve still felt connected to you guys the whole time. I’m gonna miss screaming at you until my throat goes hoarse during the final stretch of a relay. I’m gonna miss piling our stuff in the gym and sleeping on the floor together. I’m gonna miss this dysfunctional family and being able to use sexual swimmer innuendos. Never again will I be able to say that I only recognize someone when they don’t have any clothes on.

To HFH: We’re all over the place, so that’s always something to look forward to. I’ll try to iterate here what I wasn’t able to at the farewell dinner. Thank you Ms. Kinsella for being the most adorable advisor ever. Thank you Mr. Panych for stopping by every meeting even when we didn’t have them. Thank you Cindy for dealing with this rowdy bunch. Thank you Board for striving for success. Thank you members for helping us serve the community. I wish that everybody could go on a building trip and really see what we’re all about, because there are some things you just can’t explain.

To my Tumbl buddies: I’m gonna miss hanging out with you in the art room, and interacting only to ask you to reblog things so that I can reblog them too. I can see us as old ladies hunched over our laptops ferociously bantering with the younger generation of bloggers.

To the Studio Ghibli fan club: Whenever I hang out with you, I become totally carefree, which is not something I’m used to experiencing, but is definitely something I could get used to. You are crazy and ridiculous and never cease to put a smile on my face. Party hard and try not to accidentally kill anyone in a game of Monopoly. We all have our moments. #soberdecisions. Oh, and we have yet to actually watch a whole movie together, but we’ll work on that.

To Shawnligood’s fan club: Jamming in art galleries with you transports me to another world. Our late nights are the best nights, and even though I’ve only been doing this for a month or two, our games of twenty questions make me feel otherwise. We should probably recruit some more people so that shawnligood isn’t the only person left in his fan club.

To #soflow: You’re so special to me and the only people I’ve managed to keep in touch with in my whole entire life. I’ve missed exploring New York, learning random but interesting facts, butchering the French language, you guys trying to get me off Tumblr, and hanging out in the common room until the early morning. If this is just a taste of what college is going to be like, then I can’t wait! We’re gonna have to meet up and get some bubble milk tea while we’re at it.

To Junie: I love our dynamic. I don’t know how to describe it other than perfect. We can give each other hard times (forcing you to buy ice cream yourself, teasing you about your latest crush, groaning every time you mention orchestra, making you suffer the consequences of not finishing your homework), but we also know when we need to be there for one another (plotting ways to surprise you and give you something worth smiling about, slipping chocolates and handwritten notes into your backpack). I don’t know how I’ll stay sane without you guys.

To my best friend: I don’t even know how we’re friends, but every time someone tells me “Ah, I see why you guys are best friends,” I get the warm-fuzzies. We’re the best kind of friends, the best kind of friends who don’t have to do “best friend things,” who can not see each other for days (weeks?) and still fall back into conversation when we see each other as if not a second had passed. Even when we’re not there, we’re still there, so even though you’ll be in Minnesota instead of Pennsylvania, you’ll be here with me, growing separately without growing apart and whatnot.

To my brothers: The next time I see you guys, you’ll both be taller than me, so I won’t be able to beat anyone up. Ah, the good old days when I threatened Mom that I would pinch your nose until it bled if we didn’t leave the shopping mall right that second. I had your consent of course. We’ve had a violent past, so looking at where we are now, I’m quite proud of us. Thanks for the midnight food fests filled with ice cream, quesadillas, and fruit smoothies.

To my parents: You’ve seen me at my best and you’ve seen me at my worst. No matter how often I blow you off for something stupid, you’re always waiting for me whether or not I deserve it (usually I don’t). We definitely aren’t the picturesque family. We’ve had our fair share of fights and laughs. Getting us out of the house was one of the most challenging obstacles we’ve had to face, but even with one less kid to worry about, you’ll still have two to deal with, so don’t miss me too much.

To Beijing: I’m not going to miss your bipolar weather or polluted air or squatty potties or spit stained sidewalks or crazy drivers. But I am going to miss you and all of your juxtapositions. Thank you for the community you’ve provided. My time with you has been temporary and you’re forever changing and developing around me, but at the same time, you give me a sense of stability and support. You’re not my home away from home. You’re my Home.

There’s still so much more that I want to say, but I’ll save it for when we meet again, because I refuse to believe that we won’t. I’ve truly been blessed to meet all you amazing people, virtual or not. There are so many times I find myself in complete awe of everyone, and it frustrates me that most of you don’t understand how indisputably incredible you are.

What better way to express my feels than with a Tumblr text post?

So it’s a bittersweet goodbye as I move onto the next chapter of my life.
再见, emphasis on the .

Photos taken by the lovely Kathleen.