A Long Over Due Update

The most honest interpretation of my lack of posting here isn't because I have been too busy. Its that I am feeling more and more attached  to my life here. So I find it more difficult to justify spending time sharing my new life instead of enjoying and expanding it.

Since my last post, Life has required me to reshuffle my priorities in pursuit of a more precise definition of what my life here is going to be. Before my last post, I had viewed my time here in Shanghai as temporary and my relationships as particular to this time and place. Since then, I have developed a more everlasting view of the people in my life here and determined that I could see myself living here for the next several years.  I now envision myself watching my friends get married, decorating my apartment however I see fit, and launching my career from this school.

The people to whom I have bonded over the past several weeks are not the names and faces I, at first, introduced you to. In fact, my relationship with Kayla, Emily, Don, and Sarah is limited to a smile, a nod, and an exchange of basic pleasantries. But I have grown to have quite meaningful and deep friendships with four couples.

Hannah and Dan. A couple from Boston who met at a Social Justice conference. Hannah has forced me to become her best friend, not that I have any objections. Dan is an absolute delight to listen to; I love getting him started on a topic and watching and listening to his passion and insights. Together, the three of us can talk about just about any subject for endless hours. They are two of the hardest working people I have seen here and I consider myself to be a debilitating, but welcome, distraction for them. (Hannah is pictured above)

Vicky and James. Two worldly Brits who both have PhDs, love video games, and question everything. Our talks about Brexit have provided me a much clearer picture of the divide between the English nationalists and the more European-minded British people.  We have, on more than a few occasions, been in café or bar grading, eating, drinking, and talking all at the same time, with conversation topics ranging from self-reflective philosophy to the lore of Skyrim to the reasons and motivations for the rise of nationalism in Europe and the US to our past interest in model airplanes.

Kat and John. Kat, as I have said previously, is closest person to Mary Poppins I have ever met and John is a big man with an absolute heart of gold.  They have spent the past year traveling around Asia, which included a 3-month stint as volunteer teachers in the slums of India. Their dream as a couple is to open and run their own school in a developing country. They were the people I turned to in my darkest moment here in Shanghai and their aid was given so warmly and selflessly that I had no choice but to improve.

Aaron and Matt. Though not in a relationship with each other, they may as well should be. Aaron is my designated mentor, fellow history teacher, and my office is directly next to his. Aaron is a weird dude who operates at his own level in his own way. Between my inquisitiveness and his unconventional thinking, we have explored some bizarre and dark and inventive and hilarious corners of the human imagination.  Matt is a psychology teacher and psychological consultant (he cannot be called a therapist!) for the students of the school. He is one of the most mindful and empathetic people I have come across and is endlessly funny. A rugby-loving, beard-growing, body-building Jew from Alaska the size of a bear, he always garners looks of fear and curiosity from the locals. The two of them have their own language with each other—they use voices to represent different characters they have built up over their years of friendship. I am not entirely sure how I fit into their dynamic, but they seem to enjoy having me, so maybe—eventually—I will learn the voices as well.

In no particular order, here is a brief description of the past several weeks of my active life:
  • Visited, but did not enjoy, Shanghai Disney
  • Experienced Sleep No More, which was one of the best of my life
  • Enjoyed a fancy dinner at a double-Michelin Star Restaurant
  • Bought a bicycle....not sure why I waited so long
  • Relaxed with drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking the Bund
  • Began to tutor a student for some side money
  • Endured and overcame a wave of depression
  • Watched Dan fail a $30 eating challenge
  • Celebrated three friends’ birthdays in three VERY different ways
  • Bought new furniture and art for my apartment
  • Accompanied Aaron to a Shanghai soccer match
    • (Shanghai's football team won the Chinese League this year!)
  • Planned my financial future, including the creation of a budget
  • Danced at a 90s club with cute British woman and an adorable-but-way-too-drunk Chinese man
  • Immersed myself in a heavenly hour-long $35 massage
  • Gained 10 pounds from delicious food and too much alcohol
  • Failed to exercise much
  • Avoided news of the election….until recently
  • Injured my hand in a bar
  • Planned a three-week vacation in February
Since I do not have the time to describe in detail every one and since I am here to please the audience, I will now ask you all which stories you want to hear. I will tell the full stories of the two that receive the most votes, so whichever you want to know more about, feel free to comment here.

The last thing I will mention is how much more at-home I feel now that I have begun to decorate and furnish my apartment. At first, I thought that living in a spartan apartment would be healthy for me; it would keep me detached from any personal belongings, make me not want to spend much time in my apartment—and therefore doing more things. But only last week did my thinking change. I wanted to settle here. To make my own life here—which requires me to build my own living quarters. I cannot identify one moment or conversation that changed this thinking, but the change has unquestionably occurred.  Perhaps it was the realization of social stability. I have my job. I have my core group of friends. I am here. I am home.

3 thoughts on “A Long Over Due Update

  1. Hi Daniel. Thank you for sharing with us all! The experiences and relationships are what makes life so beautiful. Would love to see pictures of your art; learn more about where your 3 week trip will take you; and what you ate at the fancy restaurant.
    Continue to enjoy every moment.


  2. So happy to see someone’s idea of living here change like this! I, too, hope to get to meet people who won’t be just faces with whom I exchange a few smiles and hellos here in Shanghai!


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