Yesterday was a reunion of families. Of course, being Asian, we ate at some sort of Taiwanese restaurant. I talked to my friend David while our parents spoke in rapid Chinese. Both his sister and my brother were absent, off spending their summers busy. We were the lazy ones, living it up before we went to college for the first time.
The beginning was a little awkward—neither of us knew what to say and our parents were talking over us, so it was hard to get a conversation started. Oh, and we hadn’t seen each other in about six years; that was an obstacle too.
But once the conversation started it was hard to stop. The details of the last six years of our lives just came pouring out for two hours. We hadn’t even gone to the same school as kids, although were in the same school district. We knew each other through church and family, which meant our relationship was different than most others I had. But I was glad, because I couldn’t imagine holding a conversation with any of my elementary school friends.
We talked and laughed mostly about high school, college, and mutual acquaintances. I would have had a very different life if I’d stayed here in Acton.
|They don’t get out much; parties and drinking all happen in the basement. Sometimes they drive to the movies.
||People frequent bars and clubs and hookah lounges every week. Malls provide entertainment like arcades or karaoke as well as shopping.
|Students try to get their driver’s license as soon as possible—no one walks anywhere.
||Everyone waits until they return to America to get their license because of the abundance of public transport or their own drivers, and also because of the chaotic Shanghai traffic.
|They don’t really travel. Optional trips happen once a year. Sports are generally local.
||Travel is for everyone—athletes, musicians, MUN, quiz bowl, etc. Plus, we have China Alive, a mandatory annual culture trip throughout China for grades 6-10.
|Guys dress in the “preppy nautical” look—polos, pastel shorts, boat shoes with long socks. Brands are respected—Ralph Lauren for guys and Lily Pulitzer for girls.
||Guys dress either urban or Korean-pop style. Jeans, skinny or baggy, with a t-shirt and nice shoes. Some prefer to dress preppy—argyle vests, collared shirts, nice jackets and shoes, sometimes high-end watches. Girls on the whole dress much more in the vein of European style. No one cares about brands.
|No such thing in suburban America.
||There was a whole emo-skater phase in middle school when people wore a lot of black, skated, dyed their hair, and had a lot of teenage angst.
|Not many hipsters here.
||The hipster movement is rampant at SAS. So many kids preoccupied with being artsy and non-mainstream.
|More American sports like football and lacrosse.
||More Asian/European sports like table tennis, badminton and rugby.
|High school is one big rectangular building.
||High school has a campus—several buildings connected by sky bridges and a separate auditorium/gym building.
|School is from 7:23 – 2:18. What?! They get lots of snow days and a few holiday breaks.
||School is from 8:05 to 3:00 with a 40 minute bus ride both ways. We get lots of breaks and a few typhoon days.
|School is pretty much in the center of town—seniors are allowed to go out and eat if they have a free period.
||School is between the ocean and a rural village, contained in a living complex/golf course called the Links. Students are not allowed off campus.
It’s too bad we all forgot to take a picture together. I hope I’ll see them during winter break.
We visited the bank as well, and while my parents handled their transactions, I sat and finished the book I had started last time. Onlookers looked at me like I was a psycho.
We then drove to a different area of Massachusetts to meet up with our old fellowship group. It was a lovely park area with a small manmade beach and a large grassy area surrounded by towering trees. It made me feel calm to be among these people again after so long, even though most of them were new to the fellowship and didn’t know us. The ones that did know me said that I’d changed a lot and didn’t recognize me at first. I saw my old babysitter (my mom’s coworker) and her youngest child, who was only a baby when I left. Unfortunately there was no one my age that I knew, so I spent most of my time sitting on the fence and gazing out to the lake, enjoying the breeze and being dark and brooding. And when I say most of my time I mean about five minutes because ten minutes after we arrived it started pouring.
Our last stop was Ming’s Supermarket in Boston, a Chinese grocery store. It smelled exactly the same as it did six years ago. I got a lot of strange looks for snapping photos with my iPad. I find that Chinese people in America seem more judgmental than Chinese people in Shanghai; Shanghai locals don’t really give a crap anyone around them does. Unless there are white people with a cute baby. Then the women will crowd and ask to take pictures.
I had a great time revisiting old memories. But while I do like to remember my roots, I can’t wait for what’s up ahead! I’m going to the DMV tomorrow to take a test or get my permit or whatever it is I need to do to start driving. Wish me luck!