Friday, May 27, 2011

Pale Skin + Postcards

It has come to that time in Shanghai when everybody pulls out their shorts and tshirts. We happily stow our scarves and coats away, welcoming the spring with a certain sense of fickleness. Winter was a lovely cool friend early on, but with time we all grew tired of its chill. We will sing the praises of spring until she leaves us for summer, then once again damn the heat for making us sweat. It is only natural to crave a change of weather.

These days, right now, are the satiation of that craving. The perfect few weeks which leave us with nothing to complain about.

Looking around me each day now, I see more colours in nature with each bike ride, more people outside with each bored glance out the classroom window and I can feel more happiness around me. Pairs of legs drag their owners outside to enjoy the sun, eyes squint and smiles widen and skin browns. I feel like things might just be ok. Almost as if humans are designed for this weather.

I arrived in Shanghai in the middle of winter, freezing nights and grey days. Being a Brisbane girl, I was not used to the kind of cold that never leaves you. Despite however many layers I wore, I found myself never truly warm. My bones could not thaw. I was in a constant state of slight discomfort. My shoulders hunch and my arms stay close to my body. I am not myself.

I feel like cold is a hindrance to happiness. When I am wearing winter clothes I cannot ride a bicycle comfortably, or lie on the grass, or climb over a fence. Cold days mean wind and rain, so nothing can be done outdoors. Grey skies get me down. I can't help it. It's an Australian thing, perhaps? I am not myself when the weather is so gloomy. I can only skulk in cafes so much, I can only buy so many scarves, even hot chocolate becomes tiresome.

I did not realise, however, that the weather was getting me down quite so much until it changed. As each day grew gradually warmer I felt my spirit warm too. With each day Shanghai was, and is, feeling more and more like home. I can wear the clothes I wore in Australia, I can eat outside on the grass as though I were in Australia, and I can ride a bike anywhere I want - anytime. It is the freedom that weather brings that I so strongly respond to. In the snow I cannot simply do as I please, but now every day presents new possibilities.

Whilst thinking of this, I began (as I often do) thinking of home in all its facets. I have never been away from my family for this long, and their absence certainly has my heart growing fonder. I have been blessed to find excellent new friends here, but now and again we all crave the company of those who know us well - the knowledge that we can relax in the unconditional affections of someones presence.

So, whilst on this particularly loving whim, I began my next postcard send-out. The last one was this in Cambodia, and so I thought I might try something a little more ambitious...

Perhaps it was a little too ambitious... I'm only half way through!!!

I used anything 2D I could get my hands on including maps, magazines, menus, music and more. (It is a complete coincidence that all those things start with the letter M.) I got myself high from so much glue and am now suffering from several severe paper cuts. I hope you appreciate this sacrifice.

Also, I thank the people in Shanghai for putting up with my unbearably pale skin. It will be this way for at least a fortnight. When in direct sunlight my upper arms and legs may blind you, this can be avoided with polarised sunglasses.

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