UUU Reunion

Tiffany Reads Logan's Palm
May 03, 2008

This visit to Beijing feels like an extension of how I was traveling over recent months. Back around Europe I was going out and spending time with old friends, staying with people I knew from other places and times. It's been more of the same here in Beijing. These past few days have been non-stop conversation, catching up with more good old friends, among them two classmates from Urumqi:

Tiffany has moved to Beijing. She stayed on in Xinjiang a few months beyond the time I left (late summer), then went back to the U.S.. After working over the winter to make enough money to come back to China, Tiffany moved out here just a couple months ago. I'm staying at her place now, she shares a hutong apartment with three other foreigners in the Gulou neighborhood.

Logan flew into Beijing a day after I did. She too has had a busy year since we last saw each other, this past summer back in Xinjiang. She also left Xinjiang in summer of 2007, going back to the U.S. to finish up her Master's degree. She's returned to studying Chinese, but--love Xinjiang as she may--has transferred to Yunnan University down in Kunming. I understand her reasoning for making the break with Urumqi and leaving a Uighur-speaking area: It's too tempting to take too much on. At Xinjiang University, Logan was splitting her time between Uighur and Chinese courses. Everybody I know who has studied two languages at the same time agrees that--even in spite of expending extra effort--when taking two on simultaneously, one or both languages will suffer.

Lisa and David
As we're all staying at Tiffany's flat, the three of us have been spending a lot of time together: relating what's new with our lives and reminiscing back on days of UUU Frisbee in Urumqi. On occasion, we've gone out with other people I know from other places and times who happen to also be living in Beijing now. Zhi Shuang, who owned the cafe I used to study at when I first began at Xinjiang University, has just moved to Beijing to look for a new job.

We've also hung out with Lisa, who--in contrast to everybody else I've been seeing here--is leaving China for the next phase of her life. After a couple years working in Beijing she's decided to move on. Her last day of work was just a few days ago. It sounds like she's not quite sure just where it is she'll move along to. Lisa has spoken of Buenos Aires as a potential destination; she will first travel around for a couple months, visiting Uzbekistan and Morocco.

I never did care terribly much for Beijing, though hold out hope the city will eventually grow on me--I do find it changed every time I return. What I most notice on this trip back are how many westerners are in this city now. I can't walk anywhere without seeing at least one foreign face walking down the street.