Yearning for Yesterday’s Self*

I am hard at work on Vermont to China (working title). I’ve now gone through all relevant posts up through my December 2011 return to Guangzhou, sorted them and made notes of missing details and necessary transitions. In other words, I’ve got a rough manuscript consisting of 244 pages of gobbledygook.

Revisiting my writing from China ended up being a very emotional process. Although there is so much that I didn’t state publicly on the blog, my posts often evoked the emotions I felt writing them – the absolute fear I experienced when Mei-mei was so ill in October and November, the excitement and enthusiasm I felt as I developed comfort and competence navigating the campus community, the mingled euphoria and trepidation I felt as I anticipated my departure from China and return to Montpelier.

This morning I couldn’t help crying as I worked with the writing from that first departure from GZ/return to VT. I felt a keen sense of nostalgia for the me that wrote those posts. How I envy that yesterday’s self who thought the life they built in Guangzhou would stay real and present, who believed that they would find a way for their children to always speak Chinese, who didn’t know that a few short days after their return they would experience the tragic loss of a dear friend and neighbor and that that loss would become mingled with a rupture between lifeworlds.

That’s not to say that I am unhappy with my current circumstances. I guess I am just mourning the loss of the gaze that I had as I completed my year in China.

* term borrowed from Ritivoi’s wonderful book by the same name

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