Beijing was so beautiful for most of my time there. I was lucky enough to be there just shortly after the victory parade, so the skies were clear and bright. The locals call it "Beijing Blue." They stop to gasp and take photos because they can actually see the clear blue sky. Most days are gray and covered with the haze of thick pollution. The gray skies and rain, it seemed would wait until I was shopping the outdoor markets, or scaling the Great Wall.
I had one free day in China before my life would be forever changed with the addition of our precious daughter. I was already enamored with this country and wanted to hit the ground running to soak up every uninterrupted bit that I could. Tomorrow would be less about China, and more about my daughter. I did not come here for a vacation, after all, and although I wanted to experience the beauty and culture, my mind was quite fixated on that little girl that I'd been loving through pictures and emails for the last 10 months.
Traveling alone was not ideal, and I strongly recommend NOT doing it. But for our family, it was really the only way. I missed Richard terribly and hated that he wasn't here with me experiencing our daughter's home country. Still, I was fortunate enough to connect with another American mom on facebook. Terrie was in China with her best friend Tami and two of Terrie's daughters. Terrie was about to DOUBLE the daughter ratio in her home with the addition of two special girls. This was her second adoption and second time in China so she knew the ropes, better that I did anyway. I hoped it would be fun to have someone to swap stories with and explore the city with, but I had no idea that the comfort of the presence of these two women would be so needed for my heart. But God did.
Despite the incredible spread the hotel offered for breakfast, coffee was all my stomach could handle. I dressed quickly, figured out how to exchange currency and hail a cab without speaking the language, and off I went to meet my new friends at their hotel, which I was sure was somewhere in the city of Beijing. There is really something to be said for the comradely of the mothers in this adoptive community. These ladies met me with open arms and encouragement and we truly didn't know each other from Adam. They told me I was brave to be here alone, but I didn't feel brave. I felt beside myself with joy and jet lag. China, you guys. CHINA. Is this my life? How did I get here? The sheer absurdity of it all still makes me scratch my head at times. But there I was, in China, with my new besties whose names I couldn't keep straight for more than 10 minutes, and off we went to explore. Ridiculous, yes? Naturally, we took the subway. I found it to be very much like the NYC subway. Nothing much to note. I was so sick with jet lag that I'm positive at one point I drifted off to sleep between stops. One of the things I loved was being able to hop off of a subway and onto a rickshaw in the same commute. I loved the mix of ancient and modern. China is so fascinating, you guys. Go visit! China is a place of such rich history and culture. I fell in love, and I fell hard. I honestly cannot wait to go back one day, and pray that Lucy Li will want to come with me. I cannot wait to introduce the whole family to China.
Terrie, Tami, the girls and I wandered markets and met beautiful people selling their wares. I was giddy about the treasures I found. An iron teapot, some leather shadow puppets... as much as I enjoyed this time exploring China with my new friends, I could hardly stand that I was SO close to Lucy Li, but had to wait one more day before meeting her. Even as I carefully maneuvered muddy puddles in the cobblestone alleyways of Beijing, I could hardly believe any of it was real, and how lucky was I that even though I had traveled alone and missed my family so much, God had brought two angels on the same path at the same time. That night would be my last as a mother of three. Peking Duck was served around a beautiful round table surrounded by people whose stories were vastly different than mine but whose hearts were full with the same love and gratitude for the journey we found ourselves on. It was too much for my heart to take. I blamed the spicy food for the tears on my cheeks.