Semi-Late Night Thoughts about Coming Home

Having spent another 4 amazing months in sunny California, I have to admit it's becoming harder and harder for me to determine where "home" really is. The fact that I'm shuttling between two very disparate cultures makes it all the more difficult. Reverse culture-shock has been very real. Anyways, I was reading through some notes on my phone the other day while I was stuck in traffic (as one does in China), and I found some short but bitter prose I wrote right before leaving for college. I think I wrote this because I was feeling so anxious about leaving home and having to adapt to such a different culture, but also because I was starting to feel restless after 14 years of living in the same city. I definitely don't feel the same sense of angst that I did back then, probably because I've really missed this place and its people despite all of its flaws. Some of the thoughts I express still resonate with me, though.

living in China has hardened me. you don't want to be the lone circle in a plane of sharp-angled polygons. at some point you might be pricked and all your kindness and patience will come pouring out of you until you are left with nothing. so you learn to be sharp sharp sharp just like the others in hopes of keeping everything contained and intact, without realizing that see these rigid edges and jutting corners? they do not make up the shape you were meant to be. you no longer realize the gravel in your voice as you converse with waiters at busy restaurants, the impatience in your wrist as you brush away those men on nan jing dong lu pedaling their flyers, the contempt in your cold gaze as you scan the crowded subway for a seat. we become at the mercy of the city as she changes us into everything our polite mothers and friendly kindergarten teachers told us not to be: distrustful, apathetic, closed off... two dimensional shapes, all drifting on the same plane but never once intersecting.