Article by Patrick Antony
One hundred issues, one hundred months of events, articles, deadlines, and deliveries. That’s a long road full of amazing people winding roads and about a million cups of coffee. When I was asked to write this article about the hundredth issue, I was equal parts humbled and scared. Not for the article itself, because hell, let’s face it, five minutes after you read this it’ll be forgotten. What I was/am scared for is that this article will have over stepped the bounds of what Xianease, Xi’an and the Xianease community means. This whole thing has never been about me, I have never enjoyed being “the magazine guy” and I must write a fine line to both tell my story and leave it where it belongs–in the past.
Potential is a double edged sword; it can mean great things (“He’s always had potential”) or an utterance of disappointment (“He’s always had potential”), and only the intonation changes. It was with this in my pack, and a few other odd bits, that I left the US many years ago.
As Robert Frost so timelessly stated, “as way leads onto way” I found myself in Xi’an for a second time looking for who I wanted to be, looking for an identity. Through the vast generosity of people in the community, Xi’an very quickly felt more like a home than any place than I’ve ever lived, ever. It wasn’t always easy or fun to live in Xi’an, but the good stuff outweighed the bad and I had my fair share of “China Days” where nothing seemed to go right. Yet I was humbled and awed by the city that embraced me and the people that helped me, in short I fell in love with the city for all its attributes and faults.
It was with this feeling of “home” in Xi’an that an idea was born, the idea that Xi’an isn’t Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong; that Xi’an can be difficult and trying frustrating and crushing but it can also be a breath of life that exudes adventure and excitement, a reason to get up early and stay out late. Those reasons are very rarely the same for any two people and, honestly, Xi’an was getting a pretty bad reputation as a difficult and terrible place (the first time I was in the city I couldn’t wait to leave).
Soon after its inception, the idea of Xianease was taken up by an enthusiastic group of folks that breathed life into its meaning, put articles onto its pages and brought laughter to its events. From this, groups popped up to encompass as many people as possible because the core of everything Xianease, like Xi’an, needed to include as many outlooks as possible. We would fail—I would fail—if it became centric around what I like, what I wanted and what I found amazing about Xi’an.
That is what became one of the foundations of everything, it needed to be as inclusive as possible providing an equal experience for as many individuals as possible. That was carried over into the core team that actually worked for the magazine as well. From the first issue right up to this very issue you are holding has been hand delivered to each location. This means that we are walking the streets in rain, snow and heat to never forget that this is the city and the people we are serving and no one is above that.
Once Xianease was up and running we looked to the community at large to fill its pages, organize its groups and fill its events and though it will always be a frantic deadline, the community has yet to let us down. Bringing to life the embodiment of what Xi’an means to them and to pass that passion along to others for them to discover their own Xi’an. It was this stability that gave way to Xianease fulfilling its potential, it is this coming together of the community that allows it to continue and give life to the idea formed many years ago.
Xi’an and the community have both changed so very much since our first issue in April of 2010, so many amazing people and places have come and gone, so many memories made and enshrined. Through the years there have been countless people who made the Xi’an community the success it is, and I am humbled by the idea that they have chosen Xianease to be the mouthpiece of that community in which we live.
Many years ago a broken and obscure path led me to the city of Western Peace, within its walls I sought myself, I sought a place to call home. The city, her people and the Xianease community provided me with a mirror that opened my eyes and brought to focus the fact that I never needed to search in the first place, that I simply needed to create who I wanted to be to build a home wherever I found myself.
Like everything in life, Xi’an isn’t black or white; it’s not all good or all bad, it is somewhere in the between, the myriad shades of color between the extremes that provide the true image of what Xi’an is, and the most amazing thing is that no two people see Xi’an in the same light. My Xi’an will never be yours just as yours will never be anyone else’s. It’s that differential of perspective that makes me breath deep in the early morning crowds, close my eyes and listen to the sounds of a busy afternoon restaurant and walk the silent shadows of the city wall at night.
In the end I realize it isn’t a story about me at all, it never was. It’s always been a story of us, those of us that have made Xi’an home, no matter if it was for a few months or many years. Xi’an has left an indelible mark on us all, and we have left our mark on it.
Patrick Antony is the founder of Xianease Magazine.
Blessing XIANEASE good luck ....