It's all about geography. Today seemed like the end of the old order and the beginning of something momentously different. As luck and the will of diverse schedulers would have it, Colin and I both left Princeton on the same day, today, June 21, also the longest day of the year. I drove C. to the Junction for a 5 AM train to Newark, thence to England where he is presenting at a conference and visiting friends. Then I caught hour or so more of restless sleep. It was shaping up to be another soaking hot day (for to say "burning hot" implies something dry...) by the time I finished off an impressive number of errands and began the first leg of my multiply-articulated journey. But the real first leg was that 4:40 AM, 10-minute drive home from the Junction. If home is where the heart is, and if you are said to be on a journey when away from home...well, I have been journeying since then.
Two buses, three trains, and a quarter-mile walk later, I am here in the DoubleTree, Washington DC. My trip to Beijing begins here, the China-Fulbright orientation. At first I was nervous about it, but Colin and I distracted ourselves in a very jolly way over dinner last night, speculating on what the other Fulbrighters will be like. I omit further description here, for reasons of tact, but suffice it to say that I am going to be observing more carefully than otherwise I might, just because of Colin's imitations and our laughs.
How many of them will there be? (A little digging around suggests about 40.) Will there be anyone like me? (A graduate student who spends most of their time digging around in classical Chinese books?) All these questions may soon be answered. There will first be an informal dinner and then a formal occasion of some sort at the Chinese embassy. I am deeply consternated about clothing, and what to say, and all the rest, but will just have to do my best.
Meanwhile, I get to enjoy this posh hotel room (king size bed, very empty when one is used to sharing a full size futon), mountains of pillows and towels, a marble desk and a brocade armchair, wireless (for $10/day) and of course the signature DoubleTree cookie. I remember the cookie from Colin's and my "honeymoon" in Niagara Falls. Before anyone gets nervous, I just mean an off-season trip we took there when we were newly going out--actually to celebrate my passing generals--when we stayed in a magnificent top-floor DoubleTree room on the Canadian side, with a view of the giant ice-clouds coming up off the Falls. I'm on the top floor here too, but the most ready object of view from my window is the National Paint and Coatings Association building and a large white blooming magnolia tree. Oh well, at least I'm looking down on them and not straight across. So really my only complaint is the absence of Colin, and the fact that I have to wear a suit soon.
In fact, quite soon so I shall stop blathering on. I should add, however, that slightly over-the-hill strawberries, sliced and topped with a sprinkle of sugar and a dollop of creme fraiche, is a highly recommended breakfast. Sometimes that pre-moving fridge-cleanout isn't really so bad!