Unexpectedly today in Shanghai its springtime.
I wake up with the singing of the birds, look out and there’s the sun, of course is a muted sun, but it’s still sunshine. I expect 20 degrees of warm spring warmth. I know I know, my mom always said: “Do not take off your winter clothes in April or you’ll get sick”, but I can’t resist. Tomorrow I will have sore throat and cold, but I have to do it! I wear light blue jeans, a nice shirt, a young faux leather jacket, sunglasses, older girl with a bicycle, younger girl with scooter, dog with croquettes, book for me, water and food for everyone and out we go towards the only pedestrian street in Shanghai where you can stroll through all the things/people/animals listed above.
Here we are. The square is full of screaming kids swarming like ants, bouncing balls, dogs overexcited by perfumes and sweat stink, moms and dads with embarrassing outfits (but I’ll tell you about this in the next article).
And then it happens. I see Emma’s face lit up, her blue eyes crumble and her whole body trembles. There is a school friend in the middle of the square. They both throw their bicycles on the ground and meet smiling. They start to gambol, holding each other hands, emitting giggles of pure joy and happiness, and not being able to contain their emotions they begin running at breakneck speed. I love them. I am witness to the infinite joy that friendship gives.
So while I sit and watch the big girls run around, the little girls “cook” soups with the grass and the flowers and the dogs smell the asses of each other, I sit and think of my friendships, far and near.
When I arrived in Shanghai almost four years ago, the absence / distance of friends was my biggest concern. I wondered if in a particular situation such as that of expatriation it would never have been possible to create true and deep friendships or whether it would stop everything in a “comfortable” friendship, we attended occasionally, help with the kids and with the survival in a huge City and then everyone goes back to his old life, old friends, those in our heads are “real friends”.
Instead, in the midst of this swirling of international friendships, on these super-sumptuous evenings, to this fake life that we live here, I have found the most real and wonderful people I have ever met.
A super-vibrant and sunny blondie woman from Molfetta, thirsty for life and love, a volcano of passion and happiness.
A curly-haired woman from Milan, at the beginning she looks cantankerous, but with her depth and sincerity has become “my person”, teaching me that I can trust someone and I can also confide, I can say that sometimes it is not all right. She knows when I need a coffee, a Thai lunch with a beer, a chat while sipping the herb of happiness or when, fuck, I need four mojitos.
Then I realize that so many of those who were “real friends” I have lost in the journey, and so many have entered my heart precisely because of the distance. So after an “open hearted breakfast” and a refreshment aperitif, Max became my far away good friend, he is my Italian/Chinese kinder egg with surprise inside.
And what about Whatsapp groups? An excruciating torture when it comes to class school moms, but life for me when there are my crazy friends “donkeys” , or my beloved cousins, or my sisters (that real one Lara and the adopted one Clara).
So I would like to tell you that I will throw my bicycle for you, I’ll leap, I’ll clap, I’ll giggle and I’ll run at breakneck speed, when and where you want.
Life without you will taste like green tea instead of mojito, and you know, I always liked mojito.