It seems we have successfully run the gauntlet and are now in an odd period that you might call limbo, or perhaps the victory lap. Our large dinner events and going away galas are completed. Instead we are getting together in comfortable settings with close friends. We have packed 5 out of 8 large pieces of luggage (each weighing in just under the limit of 50 lbs). The kids are done with school, the kindergarten departure yesterday afternoon was a tough one. Everyone wanted a final goodbye and one last picture of the kids. Freed from school days, we are doing our best to use up the rest of our bubble stuff and art supplies and taking last bicycle rides (the bikes will stay here). Jason and I are both done teaching. In a couple of weeks our students will submit their final assignments via email. We will be at home in Vermont at that point.
All that remains is to finish out our last 60 hours in Guangzhou. Tomorrow our friends are coming over and we are going to Dong Shan Hu Gongyuan. These are our Chinese friends who don’t speak English so we have left ourselves completely open in case they plan to spend the entire day with us. On Wednesday we will complete our packing and go to see the dragon boat races in a really old Guangzhou neighborhood. We will have our last dinner at the hotel restaurant with our wonderful neighbor, Kit.
We leave bright and early (6 am) on Thursday and, if all the flights go smoothly and customs is no trouble, we should be walking into our home about 26 hours later – Thursday evening.
I’ve got an odd feeling – a bit of discontent and nervousness. I am bursting to go home but feel so strange about the completeness of our departure from this place. I dream of the green grass and blue sky, lying in bed with the cool breeze and the songs of the crickets coming in through the wide open window but I wonder if I might not feel isolated and under-stimulated without urban hustle and bustle and the constant intellectual puzzle of trying to read cultural cues, understand and be understood in a language I do not speak well. I cannot wait to eat some fresh-baked artisan crusty bread from Red Hen or Elmore bakery but what am I going to do without 豆豉清菜 and 炒河粉?
I guess mostly I have a hard time imagining my contemporary self someplace else. Who am I in Vermont and am I that person still? It was a big thing to leave, but it is also no small thing to return.