Lunch was spent with a good friend, Melanie, at our regular stop – a nice coffee restaurant called Jamaica Blue. It is located in an excellent area – between two high end apartment complexes that specialize in accommodation for expat families from large companies and across from Chaoyang Park one of the largest parks in Beijing. We eat here so regularly that even though the tuna salad is no longer on the menu I can still order it. Another friend orders french fries and gets them though they have never been on the menu. It is a place where we hang out. While not exactly cozy it does feel a bit like home and in the warmer weather it has wonderful tables with umbrellas where we soak up the sunshine.
It seems that in order to really fit in at JB’s though you have to be a member of one of the special clubs – you either have to have a baby or an Apple electronic device of some sort.I fit in with the latter club though I have many friends who are now members of both. A group of friends who used to work together or still do for a few of us began meeting there about three years ago so we could stay in touch. It was a predominately female gathering though we weren’t opposed to being joined by the men we knew. We would sit around a bunch of table pulled together in the middle of the space and talk and laugh and complain when the mothers would come in with their babies in large carriages or prams as my friends called them. These things took up so much of our valuable space and we didn’t appreciate it at all. Well, fast forward two and a half years and a number of the group are now married with babies of their own whom we all adore and are unofficial aunties. Now we are the ones still in the middle but with baby carriages of different sorts jammed into the space and taking up much more than our alloted space. Do we care??? No , not really because we are still meeting and laughing and sharing. The only difference is now we pass the babies around as we continue our talking and gasp at how fast time is going as we watch them grow up.
So today it was just Melanie and I eating at JB but we were definitely part of the Apple Club as were most of the people in the cafe. Melanie played with her new iPhone and I worked and shared on my iPad. Then we switched until my eyes couldn’t see the screen of the iPhone anymore. We surfed the net thanks to the great wireless connection and shared about our past week. It was great. Eventually, Melanie left for a while to go and pay a bill at the bank next door and I settled in for a long wait. Banking in China is a unique and time consuming exercise. She kept texting me to let me know how many people were in line in the bank. JB’s got noisy and crowded as the mom and baby crowd arrived and jammed with the prams. But as I looked around I realized that over in the corner around a small table were seven Chinese gentlemen with two computers deep in discussion and occasionally typing. The man sitting near the window in the big easy chair was writing on a notepad and then checking on his computer. A couple in the corner were drinking coffee and both had their computers open and were talking and typing. Another group of women were crowded around a square table, no babies in sight, but were all looking intently at the screen of a computer looking at vacation pictures. I realized how special it was to be part of this crowd…a place where we all belonged even in a country we didn’t call our own.
When Melanie came back we decided to go and look at electronic bikes. I have been considering one though I have depended upon drivers and taxis for the past seven years. Something seemed to click this morning in my brain and I wanted to check one out. Melanie was stunned when I said I wanted to walk to the store which was a good distance away and the wind was brutal but off we went. Well, the trip which was suppose to be investigative only turned out to be a bit more than that. I am now the proud owner of a electronic black bike with a really comfortable seat. It will be delivered to me tomorrow evening. You may ask why it is being delivered rather than me hopping on it and driving it home. Well, the answer is I haven’t ridden a bike for 50 years so it is going to take me a bit of practice before I will attempt the streets of Beijing. Regardless of the fact that I will just use it on weekends for here and there small trips I already feel a bit of freedom I didn’t feel last night. I have wheels……
So Black Beauty or BB as I will call her will be home tomorrow and she will be parked inside the apartment in a nice place I already have for her. I was going to put a new digital piano there but that is a dream still to be fulfilled. So until that part comes into play BB will spend the time when she is not traveling with me enjoying life in my apartment.
All told – life is good at 60.