A friend, when moving to a different city, becomes an old friend rarely seen. When moving back to their home country, however, a friend becomes a memory, if even that.

Water pooled on a tabletop – can you see the way the surface bends when you touch it with the tip of a pen? This is how I envision the social barrier between China and the States: invisible yet definite, permeable yet absolute, counterintuitive and oddly beautiful when you’re in the right mood. This world of being a foreigner is viscous, pulled in on itself by stories of why we came, reasons we’re still here, habits and opinions and preoccupations that are only validated by the pervasive hereishness of here. When one re-crosses the barrier, leaving this world for another set of referents, one forfeits one’s place in the Siblinghood of Similarly Situated Molecules and evaporates into a different and altogether incompatible physics. One is not simply distant or missed – one entirely ceases to compute.

Or perhaps it just seems that way at times.

An acquaintance, one whose intelligence and manner would likely have led me to call a friend had I the patience to humor the rest of that particular social circle (which, to wit, I do not), will return to the original thirteen colonies in four days’ time. His going-away party was last weekend, so in terms of this world he has already ceased to exist. This evening I left his apartment with more of his stuff than I could carry, a bequeathal bequeathed with a smile and a firm handshake and an acknowledgement that we will likely never see each other again. There is no sadness in this kind of farewell, because this is the only place where it’s not weird that humans are temporary.

Also, his Bombay Sapphire is delicious.

So here here, one more toast to this expat world, one more toast to leaves on the wind.

In related news, I now have *exactly* as many badminton rackets as my right hand has fingers. There’s got to be some way to take advantage of this.

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