My plane lifts off for Shanghai in thirty-seven hours. Between now and then I want to play with the grandkids (ages 2 and 7 months). They bring such joy and happiness around a house filled with the angst of teens and tweens. I want to enjoy and appreciate my kids and have my love surround them when I am gone. Each and every one of them.But in real life time, I also have to work at a diving meet tomorrow and then stay to watch Gracie compete. I have to shower. Do my hair. I have to pack. Decide what to bring and what not and whether or not to take up precious room in my suitcase by bringing along eye candy for my husband. Red or green? See-through or make-you-guess? Right now it is a 50-50 chance one of them will make the cut. Later I have to drive from my house to the airport which is four hours away IF there is no traffic and that is a BIG if. Thirty-seven hours to go and I am nowhere near ready and I am unsure what I want to do with the 24 hours we have in Shanghai. Still. But I think I might have an idea.
I have been investigating Shanghai for the past four hours. Considering whether to take a tour. Or maybe a private car (never have done one of those). Even a taxi. But within the last two hours I think I have decided to be brave and take the road less traveled by many foreigners. I think we will take the subway from the airport (line 2), go eleven stops, transfer to line 16, go 6 stops, exit the subway station, cross the street and take bus 628 go past the Government Building and get off at the next stop. Then walk towards the direction the bus is going, make a left and then I should see the Ancient Water Town of Xinchang. At least this is what Doug on Trip Advisor says. Every Doug I have ever known has been a nice guy so I am going to assume that this Doug is too and that he is not leading me into some sort of den of iniquity which might be interesting in of itself if B was not along for the ride.
It is always intriguing to me how we choose the places that we visit. I used to think that is was a science but I have now come to believe it is haphazard and you end up going where you are suppose to be. So many times I have set out in one direction and ended up somewhere else. Usually some place better than I had ever imagined and I have met people that I never would have had I followed my Itinerary.
That is what I am hoping for when I go to Xinchang. I hope to meet an old man who takes me into his ancient house in the ancient river and tells me stories. Stories of what life was like when he was young. Stories of the war. Stories of his family, his work and his loves. Stories that help explain things I can only imagine. Stories that bring tears to my eyes and a laugh to my heart. For really, its only the ancients that can tell a great story in a way that makes you realize you have to live much longer, take more bounteous risks, and love much deeper/fearlessly in order to create a story that hugs a heart like that. A stick-with-you kind of scenario. An I-want-to-do-better-myself type of thing.
So I am crossing my fingers about today and the days to come. They are crossed for Gracie and her first diving competition of the year. About my suitcase weighing less than 50 pounds. They are crossed and white knuckled about airplane trips. About de-icing planes. About making sure my kids are okay. They are crossed tightly about having a clear day to look up at Mt. Everest. About B and I discovering more to love about one another during this trip. About meeting little old men with great stories so I can earn the basics of a few good stories of my very own. And my fingers are crossed because maybe, just maybe, this journey of a lifetime will actually renew a love that was suppose to last a lifetime; as we look towards a mountain that has withstood it’s own test of time to become a beacon for those with love in their heart, determination in their minds and passion in their souls. One can only hope.