Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: I

Well, my first trip back to America in nearly four years has been interesting, to say the least. By now, I am safely back home in Beijing—“Home?”—and I will give an account of my journey and impressions.

When I set out for my “vacation,” I oddly felt none of the excitement or happiness I should have expected of myself, for a visit home. Indeed, for most of the time, I felt only dread. Perhaps it had to do with my being trapped in China for the past few years because of the viral plague that settled upon us all. So much work and personal business had piled up over the years that it would be daunting to face. Electronics to collect, phones to set up, credit cards and bank cards, driver’s license to renew (because maintaining certain accoutrements still makes certain responsibilities far easier to tend from China). And there would be people to see, and graves to visit.

Another reason for my melancholy? I have nothing of great consequence left for me in America. I lost my house the same year I first came to China. No transportation of my own. The passing of friends and relatives while I’ve been stuck in Beijing—my stepfather passed away just the week before I was able to return. Visiting America felt very much like visiting an old, empty house, where once I lived, but not for many years.

I would be unable to stay with my best friend, as I usually did on visits home, but my younger brother generously offered me a room at his house. Just as well, since he also has allowed me to use his address for my US residence, meaning that my mail, and packages, and financial correspondence had been piling up at his place.

Maybe it’s just travel that I hate.

About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a high school ESOL teacher, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in Beijing's Dongcheng district
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