One of my favorite views of Shanghai is from the top floor of the Hyatt. Compared to some of the more popular bars on the Bund, Vue Bar is a quieter establishment, where you don’t have to jostle with a crowd for a comfortable position, and might even find a corner to sit down for an evening of quiet conversation.
The tall building in the middle is the Oriental Pearl Tower. Planned as the tallest building in Asia, its construction was the first of many efforts of China’s ambitious plan to find its place at the table of world leaders. I recall my awe as a small town girl visiting it for the first time in 1994, when my family traveled to Shanghai to embark on our immigrant journey. There were no other skyscrapers even close to its height then, and the tower stood as a lonely giant against a clear blue sky.
Twenty three years later, the Oriental Tower no longer stands alone, as skyscrapers shot into the sky one after another to keep up with the booming economy. As an American expat working in Shanghai, I had a mixed sense of pride, sadness, and confusion. Proud that my homeland has become a world power, sad that I no longer feel like this is home, and confused as to where exactly I belong.
If nothing else, my time in Shanghai helped me solidify my identity, and made me feel more comfortable about not belonging. I realized that I may never truly feel like I belong anywhere, but everywhere I go, I’m able to find a group of misfits just like me, eager to explore the world to discover who they really are.