The opportunity to teach for a couple of weeks in Nanjing, China came up this spring. While I have always, in the back of my mind, thought of my older years as a time for travel, expectations had been tamped down by…life. So it is odd to find my dream happening in real life, with the dream-like edges rubbed off.
For example, getting a visa from China is both expensive and complex. You have to fill out a long form studded with indecipherable Chinese characters on it; the information requested is often so detailed that you don’t even know the answers yourself until you consult all your aides-memoire.
The anticipation of traveling, the pride of being a person who jumps from continent to continent, is tempered by purely personal concerns like, “How badly will my neck ache after 19 hours on the flight?”
I’ve also had to become much more current with technology than is my wont. My friends, both near and dear, laugh at me a good deal about the fact that I can’t navigate my way around my TV remote two days in a row without forgetting the path from button to button. So today I confirmed my flight on my telephone and I have a little thing called a QR code of which I didn’t know the existence three days ago. I’m going to be able to flash it like a total champ. I think. No one will guess that the old lady with the silver hair is actually an old lady with silver hair–but with a QR code!