It's almost 2AM here in Beijing, and I just got home from attending the medal matches of women's basketball at the Wukesong Arena, not too far from where I live. Russia played China for bronze and the US played Australia for gold. I won't comment on the outcomes in case you're reading this before it's been broadcast in the US.
My friend and I took one of the special bus lines home—there's one line that had a stop near my house, then went on to stop near her house. We ended up on a bus with a couple dozen volunteers who were all in a cheerful mood, and got everyone on the bus singing Chinese folk songs. When we got to my stop, I waved my American flag and shouted Meiguo Jiayou (Go USA) and everyone cheered back, then waved at me as the bus pulled away. I think maybe that was a bit of the Olympic spirit that I keep reading about.
Once I got off the bus, I still had a 10 minute walk home, during which I was reminded of one of the best things about this city—I felt perfectly safe walking home at 1:00 by myself. Compared to the daytime, the streets seemed deserted, but of course they weren't. Along the way I spotted a group of soldiers marching, a lone guard standing on the bridge over the canal (never know when someone might try to unfurl an unharmonious banner), a couple sitting by the canal talking, the neighborhood recyling collector sleeping on a cot on the sidewalk, and a group of people sitting outside a small restaurant drinking beer and watching TV.
But the best part of my walk home was the thunderstorm–not on top of me, but off in the distance. As I crossed the bridge over the canal, the sky to the north lit up. I just stood and watched for a few minutes. Beats any fireworks display that they can shoot off from the Bird's Nest, that's for sure.
Now it's after 2AM, and definitely past my bedtime.