Returning Home

Summer has been a season of traveling for as long as I can remember. It was when I would be whisked away by my parents on an escape from Shanghai, where I was born and raised, to a foreign land far, far away. Whether it be Japan or Hong Kong, Europe or America, I was always the wide-eyed little kid who never seemed tired of finding a new world to explore. I was an adventurer at heart, and I’ve always loved my summer travels away from home, treasuring the time I got to spend away from my ordinary life. 

Summer became a season of nostalgia in my teenage years. After I moved to California, my summers were spent, surprisingly, back in Shanghai. I now visited the city I grew up in and immersed myself in the place I was so familiar with yet took for granted in my childhood. The smell of street food and shengjian bao, the grand shopping centers that reached for the sky, my loved ones who would smile and embrace me warmly… These are the images that come to mind when I think of my summers back home, and a smile stretches from ear to ear whenever these memories bubble up like a refreshing taste of soda on a hot, sunny day. 

Summer was a season of waiting. The pandemic never seemed to end (really, it was a cycle of disappointment) The times of travel and nostalgia turned into tired stares at the clock and the calendar, waiting for the days and months and years to pass by. Desperately, I wanted to go back to the summers I was so familiar with; when will it end?

Summer will be a long-awaited revival. With eased restrictions and fewer dangers, I wait patiently to embark on a journey once again. This time, I’m returning home; how will Shanghai look after three years? Will it still be the city I remember?