After 15 years exploring the world thousands of miles in distance, I returned to where I'm from at the beginning of 2012. Beijing became home again.
Last Saturday morning when I opened the curtain, I let out an exclamation with delight. Snowflakes were falling, and the roofs of the pavilions surrounding a small icy lake that forms our view from home is covered with snow. For a moment, I became the little girl who went to bed at the Chinese New Year's eve, wishing for a snow at night and waking up to see her wish fulfilled with the world turned white overnight. In those years, we had snow on almost every Chinese New Year's Day.
I went out for a long walk along Hutongs, stepping on the very thin layer of snow which soon melted away. It was cold and fresh. The sky was grey. All the trees have lost their leaves and now the branches are of the faint yellow-brownisgh color. Many bicycles, quite used ones, leaned against the grey brick walls of courtyard houses. Names of some of these Hutongs are familiar. Excitement overwelmed me when I saw "Fuxue Hutong"(府学胡同). Gosh, I had walked along this hutong day after day for four years to go to my first school. The young classmates of 7 to 8 years old would form a single line (路队) to do our 30 minutes walk to school together, picking up other classmates along the way. Did we really use that long to cover this short distance? Now standing in front of my school, I could see myself entering the gate, letting pupils on duty check whether I'd got my young pioneer's red scarf, my mug and my cleaning cloth... Many other memories from my happy days at this school and in my childhood welled up like water from a spring.
A quiet pleasure warmed me during my tireless walking in the coldness of northern winter, observing every detail like an outsider but actually with a heart of a returning child of the city. People say that Beijing is ever-changing, but obviously I have experienced something deeply known and familiar to me despite the city's vastly changed appearance. I have been assured that this is still the city with a spirit that is uniquely Beijing, and this is still the city I love. For that, I am very contented.