When we moved to China three years ago, we weren’t sure how long it would last. We signed a year-long contract, with the option to extend it an additional two years, which we did. Course, there was a bit of a kerfuffle in the middle of the third year that led to us ending that earlier than we’d planned on, and then taking a job in Shanghai.
When we moved to Shanghai, we weren’t sure how long that would last either. All we knew for sure was that it would last through the summer. The job we took there was for a short stint, with the strong possibility of it turning into something more permanent. In the end though, we decided it wasn’t something we wanted to stay on with. We were really disappointed. On paper, it looked like the perfect situation. In person, Shanghai was just as awesome as we’d thought it would be. But overall, the job just didn’t end up being what we wanted.
So, we started looking at all our options again. And after a lot of debate and heartache and indecision and back and forth, we made our choice. And that was to return to America.
In fact, we came back last week. ?
I feel like I’m still reeling from the whole thing. We packed up everything we had in Shanghai and flew back down to Dongguan, where the bulk of our belongings were in storage in a friend’s spare bedroom (since we weren’t sure how long we’d be in Shanghai). We pulled everything out of boxes and split it into a few piles – to sell, to trash, to pack into a suitcase. It was a monumental task. It was so hard to pick and choose just a few things to take back with us – there was a lot of decision fatigue, and reevaluation of what was really important to us. But honestly, even that sounds like an oversimplification to me. Are clothes really important in the great scheme of things? Not really, but I’ve got several hundred dollars worth of maternity clothes and outgrown baby clothes that I’ll eventually want again – is it worth taking those back in a suitcase? At the expense of, say, the books I cared enough about to bring with me from America? Most of it is stuff I could re-purchase, but I’ve already done the whole “buy another entire household worth of stuff” thing when we came to China. Not wanting to do that again. Ever.
Anyway. It was exhausting. It was made a little less exhausting by the incredible friends we’ve got all over China. From the several people who offered to pack a few extra things in their own suitcases to drop off in America the next time they visit, to our friends who held on to all our stuff for several months, to our friends who let us crash at their place while we sorted the whole mess out. We are blessed, all the world around, and truly grateful.
From there, we took one last drive to the Hong Kong airport, and took seven suitcases, three backpacks, one travel crib, one carseat, one stroller, one guitar, and one cute toddler who requires way too much gear, onto an airplane. Two flights and one 45-minute layover later, we landed back in the US of A. We’re in California for the time being, crashing with Terry’s parents while we find work.
On the one hand, we’re sad to come to this end of our Asia adventure. There were places we still wanted to see, friends we wanted to get to know better and spend more time with, things we wanted to do. On the other hand, we are really happy to be back in our home country. Terry’s giddy with joy being able to watch football again, my heart is doing a happy dance every time Sander wanders out to the backyard to play for hours on end, and I’ve already visited the library and have plans to have a nice long wander in an (English!) bookstore sometime next week. I can’t wait for more hiking, and biking, and playing outside under blue, blue skies. We feel really settled with our decision to come back here right now. But we’re dealing with a lot of mixed emotions.
I keep telling myself this doesn’t mean I’ll never travel again. That I can still see Angkor Wat someday. And visit Israel. And go to India (and five million other places on my travel list – many of which are right here in America!). And that we did a great job of taking advantage of the travel opportunities we had while we were abroad – we fit in Singapore, Vietnam, France, England, Thailand, Qatar, the Great Wall of China, and the mountains in Yangshuo. Not to mention Hong Kong and Shanghai. I keep reminding myself that the whole world is open to us – we may well end up abroad again someday. And I keep thinking of how I get to take my baby trick-or-treating this year, and we get to be in a country that celebrates Christmas this December, and that grocery shopping is so much easier now. It’s a lot of back and forth. Add jet lag on top of that and I’m understanding why I’ve just retreated into a novel since we’ve gotten back.
So. We knew this day was coming someday. And I guess that day is here. Carpe diem and all that, right? ?