My new tradition is Friday exploring. Going out in the afternoon by myself while the children are with the ayi and exploring the city. Well so far just the French Concession, I did say it was a NEW tradition. I go out to explore and find places for the family to visit or for Paul and I to go out by ourselves, to discover cool places.
Most of all I just go out to get lost in the city, to drink it all in – the sounds, the people, the smells (mostly bad). I feel so free when I’m out like this. I have music playing in my Bose bluetooth headphones my genius husband bought for me last mother’s day,
(way better than chocolate or flowers or the lame Photobox multi frame of the kids that I roll out for him every father’s day).
I play my music loud. Sometimes I listen to indie reminding me of festivals gone by. Sometimes its country or folk or rock. Lately I’ve been in a mindless pop spiral, it’s been going on a while actually. The music that has me strutting down the streets of Shanghai like its my catwalk. The music that is definitely not age appropriate. I can’t help but love it. No matter how cool my music taste has been over the years, I’ve always been a low key pop fan. Just ask my family about the time we travelled through Europe, driving along side the Rhine, Bob Dylan and occasionally a little Mozart playing majestically through the car stereo speakers while I sat sullenly listening to Take That’s Everything Changes on my walkman in the back. During that time my band’s were Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chilli Peppers (but only ever Blood Sugar Sex Magic), Nirvana… but there was always a bit of Take That quietly in the mix. Going back further I remember driving through the streets of North Devon, my father’s home town, with my back window open despite it being a frosty February because I wanted any passers by to hear Kylie Minogue’s album blaring, having forced the rest of my family to listen to it.
Anyway, low key pop fan as I say. The streets of the French Concession are full of life, bars, people, cafes, shops. Hidden parks and fountains, art galleries. A few have Chinese street food, some of them have queues of people 10 or 15 deep. What makes these places so sort after I have no idea. I’m not quite brave enough to try and find out yet. Plus not patient enough for that level of queueing.
The freedom of being by myself in this exciting place. The freedom of being here after feeling stifled in a small town for so long. No inspiration or aspiration. I feel alive for the first time in a long time. The sights, the sounds, the potential of the life it promises. I love it all.