friend in a Thai place...very good food, not that expensive...well,
100+ RMB per person, so its not that cheap either for a normal person,
I guess) and tomorrow my father makes his return from the States.
Given the intense scrutiny over alleged extramarital affairs that he
is facing from the entire extended family (I would like to talk about
the details even in this blog), the peace and independence I am
enjoying right now will not return until I leave Shanghai for Japan
almost a month later.
Now, with my father back here, so will my grandmother get here from
Nanjing to watch over him to make sure nothing else happens to
aggravate the existing situation that further ruin the family name (I
wrote about my rather uncaring and angry attitude toward this issue
not that while back on this blog, so I won't talk about this anymore).
I will be put in an incredibly awkward position between the silent
tension between my father and grandmother.
So, yep, end of freedom, a two month long freedom where I had two
major trips (the "Northwestern campaign" to Henan and Shaanxi
provinces for a week or so, the "Southern campaign" to Wuhan,
Guangdong, Macau, Hong Kong, Fujian, and Taiwan for about two weeks)
and wasted too much time staying with my grandmother at Nanjing (ok, I
am not that filial, as I said many times before) and with Japanese
visa process that caused me to wait around at home for more than a
week...that time I could have totally used to fulfill my incredibly
ambitious original travel plans.
Here is my original plan: (1) the "Southern campaign" that,
unbelievably, is actually completely in entirety. (2) the
"Northwestern campaign" was supposed to cover all the way to Xinjiang
after going to Xi'an (where I terminated my trip early to go back to
Nanjing), so this campaign is only half completely. (3) the
"Northeastern campaign" that is supposed to take me to Mongolia, Inner
Mongolia, Harbin, the Russian border at Heihe, and Yanbian Korean
areas (where there seems to be some flooding now). (4) the "Western
campaign" that is supposed to take me to Chongqing, Chengdu, and
possibly Tibetan areas (as policies permit)
Contrasting with my plan is the reality. I have already purchased my
airplane ticket to depart from Shanghai for Tokyo on the 26th of
September, giving me around 25 days for if I want to do anything
further with traveling or anything else. Of course, this is
definitely enough time for me to pull off another epic trip like the
one I just had to the South, but I wonder if my father and/or
grandmother would grant me that sort of opportunity.
Especially considering that my father has multiple conferences to
attend (one as far as the Netherlands) during my last month of stay
here in Shanghai, I can't imagine myself being absent from home, where
my grandmother still resides, for extended periods of time (actually,
I can't even imagine anything overnight...) So the prospect for my
continued traveling looks very slim at the moment. But if I look at
the results of my entire summer so far, the goal of a summer for
active leisure was pretty much achieved.
A trip all the way to Alaska, to Xi'an, and to Taiwan has left me with
more than two thousand pictures in more than 20 photo albums, really
giving those looking at my Facebook that I am practically going
anywhere I want. Isn't that sort of freedom what I was looking for
and received through my own sheer efforts? To be honest, there is no
regret for me this summer, especially considering from a future
perspective that sees me tied down to the office on a full-time basis.
Sure, I will make friends at work, but being constrained with personal
relationships, even at superficial levels, I will no longer have that
"I do entirely what I want no matter how anyone else feel" sort of
attitude that I proudly display on my solo trips. I feel that
occasional sense of loneliness I feel as I continue to wonder unknown
neighborhoods in unknown towns far far away is but a tiny price to pay
for that sort of totally non-constraining freedom.
But now I have to at least say my temporary goodbye to that freedom.
After all, people, include me, live in a society defined by relations
among people, and those relations are the things pushing individuals
ahead in the corporate world. None of us can avoid sacrificing
freedom for those relations, if merely for financial support we all
need to survive. A "necessary evil," I would have to say, but one
that people must make do with and make the best of...