Gray Christmas

Although leaving and coming back to Groton has become a routine part of my life now, it always feels so strange traveling to and from two very different cities. The culture, the people, and the environment couldn’t be more different, and adjusting to each “home” takes some time.

Returning to Groton from winter vacation this time, something in particular really stood out: the clean, fresh air here. At home in Beijing, I would draw back the curtains every morning to a dark, gloomy canvas of gray clouds and smog. My activities were limited, as sometimes the air was so bad that I couldn’t leave the purified air of my house. I had originally planned to play tennis, but the bad air even seeped into indoor courts. We had hoped that the pollution would clear by Christmas day, but we woke up on Christmas morning to dismal swirls of gray in the overcast sky. We aren’t going hiking anymore, I thought. Although I did complain ceaselessly for the first few days back, I eventually learned to cope with the bad weather. And despite the pollution, I had an amazing break.

Living in a city so polluted makes me appreciate the blue skies that everyone here takes for granted. It feels so good to take a deep breath and have clean air fill my lungs. In turn, I sometimes wonder about all the things I take for granted that are absent from so many people’s lives. My education, family, friends, and safe home … I guess having to deal with pollution now and then isn’t so bad after all.