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Higgins: My attempt at a DI postcard 

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | AUGUST 03, 2015 5:00 AM

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BEIJING — Not long ago, my mom texted me, asking what I wanted for dinner Tuesday evening. Well, “supper,” rather, given her Iowa roots.

I requested hash browns, which I’ve been craving, and suggested we even go out to a breakfast restaurant.

Typically simple stuff. Only her question comes nearly two months after she put me on a plane to Beijing. Tomorrow, I’ll put myself on a plane back to Illinois. I may not have time to upload my latest pictures to Facebook before I’m back in the Western Hemisphere.

Of course, my time in China goes beyond a bloated and unwieldy Facebook photo album. It’s been, needless to say (as they say), a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Life-changing. A milestone. Unforgettable.

But, for now, I’ll focus on the moments and let the greater significances have some time to settle.

I can’t wait to sit down with my mom, hopefully with some fresh fried potatoes — and streaked bacon, as I’ve only found the Canadian variety in China — about my trip to the Terra Cotta Warriors. I remember watching an episode of “The Amazing Race” with her in which the contestants were in the same location.

For whatever reason, that particular television moment has always stuck with me. I couldn’t quite shake how surreal it felt to be standing somewhere I’d seen on reality shows, Wikipedia articles, and engrossing photographs of the trip my grandma’s best friend took in China in the 1980s.

I also visited the Chinese border city Dandong. I’m sure my stepdad will get a chuckle out of how I lied to a North Korean waitress at a DPRK restaurant about my nationality, just to make the situation feel less tangibly weird, I guess?

Regrettably, I had to tell the same lie to an old Chinese lady with her family at the restaurant in order to maintain my deception.

My grandma told me I needed to send postcards to both her and my aunt, and I’m hoping they would still count with a “NEW LENOX, Illinois” processing stamp. That said, I’m more eager to share the stories behind the postcards’ images in person than through the tiny space on the back.

Otherwise, how to fully explain the Russian influence over Harbin? The guard dog that tried to eat me? The unnamed temple island? The rooftop dumplings? The taxi driver doubling as a potato salesman?

Impossible, as much as I’d like to revive the art of postcard writing.

It’s quite difficult to keep my dad apprised of my every move through WeChat, so once we’re at Chick-fil-a it may be too tough to get me to shut up once I start spilling some of my anecdotes.

And, as with last fall, I’m excited hear my friend-turned-roommate’s juicy stories about her summer trip to Lebanon. She’ll have a vintage Avril Lavigne poster and, with any luck, a purple couch to finish out our living room.

I’ll have a few juicy stories from abroad of my own to share. Very soon, I’ll have to start building new memories in a place a little closer to home.

But, I have to make good on my numerous promises to those along the way that I will return and add more China memories to my collection. Ones I’ll never forget, ones that will change my life, again.


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