I just want to say that the people who showed up for my party last night are the greatest anywhere. Old friends, journalists, colleagues, blog readers, bloggers, Chinese and foreigners – a perfect batch of outstanding friends. The tragedy in Urumqi ate into the list, as several reporters were on their way there, but about 60 guests managed to find their way to the reclusive cafe for the get-together, which lasted from 7pm past 1am.
As I prepare to leave, I keep being reminded of how lucky I’ve been in terms of the people who’ve let me into their lives. Last week I spent an afternoon sipping coffee with Matt Schiavenza, a long-time member of the blog roll and all around great guy, at a cafe in Kunming to discuss the joys and challenges of living in the Yunnan city I love so much. The week before I spent an hour with one of the newer and most impressive English-language bloggers, Mark, at a Beijing Starbucks. Last night I met John Kennedy of Global Voices Online, someone I’d had some disagreements with over the years, and I think it’s safe to say a new friendship was created. Of the people who came last night, I know probably about 40 percent from this blog, in one way or another.
I know there are some terrible things happening here, and I haven’t been offering my opinion because right now I don’t have the time to follow them and make any meaningful contribution to that conversation. But no matter what is going on around you, even in the worst of times, it’s the people you know, the relationships you develop and grow, that keep us going. I had no friends when I came here in 2002, and now I feel I’m friends with just about everyone. What a difference that makes in your outlook on life. The difference between bitter and sweet.
So thanks again to all who attended, and thanks to all of you who keep trudging to this site despite the government’s best efforts to keep you away.
Lisa and I will go to Qingdao for a couple of days starting today and I expect the blog to continue being slow for a while, maybe until I’m back and settled in America in a couple of weeks. But it isn’t disappearing, even if the site traffic is (thanks, Nanny). Please stay, and thanks for letting me into your lives, if only for a few seconds a day. This blog will remain my lifeline to China.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.