As the raucous chaos of student street slowly gave way to the quiet rustling of brooms and the occasional clanks and clinks of the garbage collectors, the crowd of foreign faces gathered at La Pisce Bar refused to give in and call it a night. There had been too many emotions running just below the surface all night, and too much beer flowing just above it. Too much to process, too much to consider – way too many highs and lows, even for this (mostly) hardened group of expats.
It had been billed as a surprise party for one of us, a special girl who had become an important part of our little world. But just days before it had become something else entirely, a finale for someone just as dear. The tears had started early, shortly after the shouts of “Surprise!”. Shalini hadn’t been expecting it (at all), which is kinda the point, but these days, among this tight knit community, it was a minor miracle she didn’t have to fake her shock. But there was no faking what happened after she opened the door. Beaming and tear-streaked, the plan by her best friend Karen had been a complete success, and left her a hot mess. What followed was the kind of debauchery that only those who know each other well, and (or) not at all, can engage in. Something that the fractious community in Fuzhou does especially well. Most of the regular suspects were there, the bald guy, the old guy, the veteran, the ABC, the British guy, the Irish guy, a French girl, the guy who never comes out, the guy who’s always there, the hotties, the wives, the girlfriends, the friends of friends, the random strangers, the owner, and some others that are inevitably lost to the beer induced haze that this kind of celebration entails. A Dutchman even stopped by for a short time! They laughed, they talked, they whispered, they drank, and they danced. But it was what went unsaid most of the night that lent an edge to the evening.
Saying goodbye is never easy.No one likes it. If you do then you’re weird. But it is a necessity in life, something that is bound to happen, more than once, and more often as you get older. Saying goodbye to friends hurts. Saying goodbye to Myron after just getting to know him sucked. He had become such a shining part of our community that it was hard to believe he was here less than 6 months. It felt like he had been here far longer, and that we had many more parties to rock. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll be back, at least that’s what he said. And I sincerely believe he meant it. But everyone says that, and not everyone comes back. Fuzhou is weird that way. I spent years cursing this and that, but when it came time to leave, all I could think about was when I’d be back. There’s something about the grime of the streets, the toxic, dusty air, and the murky brown water of the MinJiang that seems to capture my spirit and soothe my soul. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. But for him, something else called, something else soothed his soul, and no amount of fish balls was gonna change that.
And that’s just it, the essence of this community reduced to it’s purest form. That friends moved friends to tears (and beer), for the best of reasons and the worst. That we can come come together on a cool autumn night and drink to the best of times, and the worst of times and the hope that there will be many more, when we know deep down that someday soon, we’ll be celebrating another departure of someone close to our hearts. Perhaps that’s what makes it so sweet though, the knowledge that none of this is forever, that the only thing we can count on is change, and until that day arrives, we drink and dance until we forget about tomorrow and simply celebrate the day. In this case, on that day, a birthday and a fond farewell.
Happy Birthday Shalini!
Good luck Myron!