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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Paying it forward. . .

I have my first guest staying at the Beijing apartment (I need to learn the equivalent of “me casa” in Putonghua) and it’s been fun so far. He’s a very intelligent son of friends who is on summer break from his US university and spending it in China. (His Dad is a journalist in Shanghai, and the son studies Mandarin so China is a very intelligent decision for him to make.)

I’d never met the First Guest before the subway stop meet, but have already had fascinating conversations on the United States, China, the world at large, how they interact and how much the citizens of the various countries are willing (or not) to go outside of their comfort zones to complain about things they disapprove of.

So, a very welcome and insightful guest, and I thank you for lending him to me First Guest’s dad. (I give most real people titles on my site as I don’t consider it fair to invade their privacy just because the have the misfortune to know a writer. Of course, if someone really pisses me off, right to privacy be damned – I’ll probably name and shame them then sell their details to ID bandits. Thankfully, nobody has ever annoyed me to that extent.)

Back to the First Guest, who has proved to be a perfect and entertaining guest. He would have been welcome regardless, but it’s refreshing to find he’s someone I would choose to know and converse with. I have traveled much of the world being looked after by friends of friends. My last major indulgence was three months and 6,000 miles on a best friend’s motorcycle on a roundabout tour of the United States, every night of which was spent staying with other friends, or friends of friends. That is something that should, and must, be paid forward. I owe those people much more than I have repaid yet, but have them in mind always in my travels and seek things they would most like to send them. (A warning, you there in Byron, Ar-Kansas – one day there will be a “Knock, Knock, Mo-Fo” at your door, and you KNOW what you’ll be answering it to . . . )

So, I’m hosting my first visitor and practicing for the arrival of the amazing Ms. T next week, and doing okay, it seems. And then I did a damn fool thing, which close friends of mine will not be surprised by, as it’s a regular occurrence. I lost my wallet.

I think the problem is, I don’t really like owning things, because then things begin owning you. So I divest myself of them whenever I can and see what comes back to find me. My long-suffering friends all know this and have trained/bludgeoned me into checking in regularly to let them know I’m okay when I go off the grid – I’ve also convinced them of my aptitude at survival. But I definitely get anxious around possessions that start to matter too much to me. One of the reasons I travel so much is because the moment I feel secure and the place/job/relationship doesn’t challenge me or teach me any more, the instant in which I feel content and think “I could stay here forever,” I realize I won’t be there much longer. The gypsy gene kicks in and sabotages the plan. White picket fences? it asks, let’s see how good a bonfire they can make!

I’m new in China, I speak barely a lick of the language, don’t understand the culture and am just learning the country through my job on the major paper here. Which, being a newspaper, mainly covers bad news stories of crime and corruption. So I gave up hope the moment I realized it was missing, and started making lists of what needed to be replaced, canceled or done without. Thankfully, I’d learned from my last lost wallet episode and don’t keep unnecessary things with me anymore.

I then got a call from one of the amazing admin staff we have here, to tell me a store had found my “parcel.” The “store” manager (it turned out to be a restaurant) had found my health insurance card, called the insurance company, been directed to the admin officer and she had called me. Not bad for a Saturday when nobody is working.

I collected the wallet, with everything intact, which had been found outside the restaurant where my taxi dropped me and I paid and got out. All my cards, all my money, were there (I gave most of the money to the restaurant manager as a thank you).

Thank you also instant Karma, thank you Kharmic credits, thank you to all those who pay it forward. Thank you God, extremely hard-working guardian angel and universe.

I appreciate you all . . . 


  1. When I reply here I'm asked to do that prove-your-not-a-robot thing. I usually get it wrong once or twice because it's difficult to make out the letters...has anyone else made that comment? Anyway, the "happy story" comment is mine; I forgot to sign...Anyway, the return of you wallet is a nice thing to happen early on in your stay. (As opposed to bad shit happening right off the bat.) Of course, there will always be both ups & down, cuz that's just "life" wherever you're living. But, when you're settling into a new to a place, it's always nice to have some positive experiences like that. Okay, I'll stop rambling now... Kim (Jeju)

  2. I realize you're not a robot, dear, and feel free to ramble - that's what I do here . . .

  3. Pretty cool on the wallet return.