Wow, with less than three weeks left before we leave China, the time just seems to be flying. It’s as if life — our life here — is slipping away from me as I grasp at it! Because I’m trying to enjoy my friends, savor our favorite things, while at the same time preparing for the move back home mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Every day is chock full of tasks that need to be done, and I’m trying to prioritize according to how much lead time various items require to get completed. For instance, I think it probably already is too late to get some furniture repaired that needed some TLC before we move back. I’ve spent the last years really just browsing and looking, not "buying". But now, I realize I can no longer go to a market, see something I’m interested in and say, "I’ll think about it and come back later," because there won’t be a "later".
It seems the train of time is moving really fast. It’s time to buy that stuff I’ve been looking at, time to see my friends now, time to declutter the house, time to visit that one last place I haven’t gotten to see yet, time to this, time to that, now! There’s no time or room for procrastination on anything, and so there are many things to do.
Up until the last six months, it’s seemed that the train I was on was moving at a leisurely pace. I was busy, but it was as if I were looking out from the front window of the train — I could see the world going by at a manageable pace. But now, it’s as if I’m looking out a side window. Whoosh! Another day gone by! Whoosh! The week is gone! Whoosh! It’s going by so fast that no sooner do I feel I’ve focused on one thing but then it’s gone. The scenery is all such a blur, going by so fast, slipping away from me! I know everything is coming to a close here. I want to savor the time I have remaining. Yet, I can’t quite catch a full view of any particular item.
The mundane is also pushing up against the extraordinary. The high school exam period and spouse’s work schedule precluded that long dreamt-of trip to Yunnan Province over spring break. The preschool concert precluded the trip to the hot springs. This is not to say the other things aren’t worthwhile. Just that it’s hard to balance the daily requirements against the once-in-a-lifetime type opportunities.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by having so many things to do, and I still want to do so many things that I haven’t yet gotten around to. I’m taking time to enjoy life of course, but wow there is so much to enjoy! I feel a bit like a person who knows they have three weeks left to live. I’m kicking myself for every day that I stayed inside instead of going out, every day I failed to study my Chinese that day, every opportunity I passed up to travel out with friends.
We all live and learn. That’s why, I think if I were to start over at the beginning of an expat assignment, I’d be sure to jump in right away and become involved in everything. In a sense, for me, that’s the hardest part of a short term assignment: the need to jump in and then the requirement to jump out. It’s challenging to jump in, and then it’s sad to leave behind everything when we leave. I find myself regretting that Munchkin will have to change schools rather than stay at the school and with the friends she’s known most of her life now. But of course we knew before we came here that we were setting ourselves up for this. It comes with the territory. I guess it’s a part of the territory that I’m not good at, and that I don’t enjoy. I’ve done well in an expat assignment because of the fact that overall I enjoy life and enjoy where I’m at. That same characteristic makes it hard to switch gears when it’s time to leave.
I don’t like goodbyes. I prefer to say, "See you later."
But I have to say, there’s one thing I really won’t be missing, and that’s the air pollution! It’s the rainy season. The air is swarming with mosquitoes, it’s humid and rainy all the time, but the rain also clears the air. Whenever I have a tiny twinge of regret about leaving, all I have to do is to remember the air pollution and then I feel better. That’s one thing I really won’t miss, for certain!