This is a post that got lost in the madness that was us moving back halfway across the world. I wrote these things as we packed everything up and hoooooo boy was it a crazy week.
*casually travels back in time*
Today is May 17th. For you reading this in the states, it’s May 16th. Which is something I still struggle to remember almost two years later.
We have a team coming out this Friday, in two days. May 19th. Our flight for Beijing takes off at 3pm on May 30th, then our flight from Beijing leaves for California around 7 or 8pm. We’ll land in California at 6-7pm. On May 30th.
It’s crazy to be going about living normal daily life but constantly be thinking (whether you’re aware of it or not) “Am I keeping this?” “Can I pack this or do I still need it?” “Will that fit in my bag?” It’s a weird state of mind to have while also living out the same old same old.
I remember when we were first leaving for China, and we weren’t sure how long it would be before we came back to California. I remember when it got down to the last few weeks and there were just days you could FEEL the time running out. You felt each minute pass, each second tick by. There was a slight panic to pack everything even though you couldn’t just yet. It was a panic to make sure you get your favorite food and make sure you go there, and do this and that. Because you weren’t sure when you’d be able to eat it or do it again.
And that’s kind of how today feels.
What the heck happened. We were all just sitting around opening Christmas presents weren’t we? Wasn’t I just trying not to strangle a child for splattering his paint all over the floor and himself? I swear we were just freaking out because we only had a month left here.
I want to go to certain stores, I want to take pictures of everything, I want to remember the smells (no matter how nasty and gag-worthy they can be), I want to remember my window view, I want souvenirs things to remind me that this whole thing DID happen. It’s going to be weird to not just run out with Lily and grab an ice cream and take a walk. I won’t be able to hop on the light rail that can take me just about anywhere.
But I also won’t have to climb 6 flights anymore, I won’t have to worry about the window being open due to mosquitos or a dirt flying everywhere. I won’t have to dread taking a “shower” with boiling water in a bowl. (our hot water stopped working) There’s a lot that we joke about when something happens that annoys us we’ll say, “Well..I’m not going to miss THIS” and we laugh. But at the same time we are kinda gonna miss it.
There’s something we’re definitely NOT gonna miss though. No sir.
You know how people say Walmart or Target is like a black hole? You walk in when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, and then you leave at a quarter to midnight and you can hardly walk due to all the bags you’re trying to juggle and you don’t remember who you are?
That’s kind of what China is like. You walk in knowing you have to endure 4 months. And you try your hardest to ignore dates and calendars, and you start keeping track of the days not by name but by which classes are going on. Heck, some days you don’t even know what time it is until someone says “Dinner’s ready!” and there you were thinking it was 10am or something.
But even though you feel like you’ve been here for YEARS and YEARS, at the exact same time it feels like you blinked and the 4 months are over. The camp we held when we first got back? Yeah that was a million years ago. But at the same time it was just yesterday.
It’s weird I know. We know.
One way we got through this was treating it like an adventure. Sure there were times when going to the store for groceries stopped being exciting, or taking the light rail wasn’t fun but a pain and smelly. But now that we’re leaving, it feels like the end of an adventure. It’s so hard to imagine that when we carry our bags down those six flights, we won’t be carrying them back up (not that we are complaining about not carrying them back up IT’S SUCH A PAIN I SWORE MY ARMS FELL OFF A BILLION TIMES). It’s weird to know I won’t be coming back here. It’s like a whole other life that’s just stopping.
I think one day it would be fun to come back. Maybe in a few years time or ages from now. Just to come back with a friend or someone and come back to this little city. Take them to my favorite coffee shop, take them to the little grocery store, show them our old apartment building, and just see how much it’s all changed. Or not changed. But just to remember all the little things that happened. Because I know in the big picture this is only a tiny tiny little segment. Just two years. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have grandkids and they’ll see something in my house, or be flipping through pictures and ask me where I was. And I’ll see it and smile because they haven’t heard about the time I spent halfway across the world. It’ll have been years and years ago, hardly any time in the grand scheme of things, but at the time, at THIS time it’s a huge deal.
It feels like a huge chapter is coming to a close. A chapter I was dreading to read but one I’m now oh so happy I did. And though I am a mixture of pure joy and heartbreak I’m so looking forward to whatever comes next. Even if some days I cower at everything coming and want no part of it, there are days where I’m ready to embrace it all because I know it’s going to be good in the end.
Just like this China chapter was and is.