Years ago my paternal grandmother told me I should be a writer. Maybe it was her way of encouraging me to continue writing postcards from my travels and letters from college and grad school.
My only grandparent born outside the US, Grandma Blumberg came to the US from Lithuania in 1904 at the age of 2. My grandma passed away three years ago, five months shy of her 105th birthday.
She’d always said she’d kept all my letters and postcards, so I recently asked my aunt if that was true.
And sure enough, yesterday I received from my aunt dozens of postcards and letters I’d written to my late grandmother over the years.
In the pile, I found this postcard, sent from Nanjing during my first trip to China in 1988. I’m not sure what in this postcard made her think I could ever write, but her encouragement throughout the years has always stayed with me.
Back in 1988, independent travelers were exploring the mainland, but most Americans went with tours. Upon graduating high school, I joined a group of teachers and students from my new alma mater, setting off for Beijing on a Canadian Pacific 747. I was the first in my family to visit China.
I remember looking out the plane’s window as we descended on Beijing, which many foreigners still called Peking back then, and can still picture the blocky Chinese characters greeting us on the outside of the quiet terminal.
Because I was never one to rough it, I knew I didn’t want to live in the China of the late 80s (the joke would be on me six years later!). But a place like Hong Kong seemed like the best of both worlds, I thought. Chinese, yet modern.
Two years later, I moved to Hong Kong for a year of college, but that’s another postcard for another day!