We are tearing through the last 2 weeks here in China. In our last 21 days, we will have at least 22 farewell events/meals! Fortunately, for my attempts at health management most of the meals are traditional Chinese meals in which the host does the ordering and, in our honor, the food is basically all meat. For this reason I am not generally inclined to significant overindulgence.
On Saturday morning we had a couple of hours of free time before the craziness began. The children were up and dressed and Jie-jie said, “When are we leaving?” We told her we would be home for a while. She said, “Yeah, but what are we doing right now?” We informed her that it was free time for her to play. She stopped in her tracks, astonished. “You mean we can do whatever we want?” We laughed and then Jason informed her that she had “significant discretion under a standard of reasonableness.” Aside from opaque lawyerisms, the kids were quite happy to have time to themselves.
We have determined that there is no further need to shop for presents to bring back since we are inundated with gifts on very nearly a daily basis. Furthermore, over the course of the year I have amassed a cache of small gifts (children’s books in English, little toys, English workbooks) for Jie-jie to distribute to her 35 classmates and teachers and for Mei-mei’s teachers. There are 38 in her class and Mei-mei was only there this semester so, unless I come across 38 of something worthwhile and very inexpensive in the next 48 hours, Mei-mei’s classmates will be without gifts. I purchased 4×6 photos of each girl into which I photoshopped our VT address – enough for all the students and teachers in each class. They will distribute these things on Wednesday or Thursday.
Sometimes, in the frenzy of preparing our departure and socializing, I think we forget to consider that we are leaving Guangzhou indefinitely. Every now and then I get a bit nervous about returning to a life that, in some ways, seems more like something I read in a novel long ago than my own past experience.