It’s been fun revisiting and remembering as I’ve gone over my thoughts from our time in China. I’ve enjoyed re-reading my entries and posting them to be enjoyed by others. Thanks for going down this particular memory lane with me! There will be other jaunts down memory lane that take me back to other past adventures. I look forward to sharing those, too. But for now, here’s the next to last China entry for your reading pleasure…
Today is the last full day in China. It is a day of lasts. Last time walking to school. Last time dropping a girl off at Nanjing Gulou No.1 Primary School for a day of absorption and cultural immersion. We both have itchy feet to get home. Home where there’s an Alistair waiting to be loved on, a Butterfly to be patted (both are cats by-the-by). Home to our own comfy beds and all the other things we call our “very own”. It’s important to feel home, to need home, to want home, however one chooses to define “home”. You can make home wherever you are, we’ve done a pretty decent job of it here in China. But there is something about what’s been left behind. I asked her about living in another country and how she would feel about it and she said that so long as she had her Alistair and her Butterfly and her New Old House she could do it. Hmm. I wonder if we’d have to detach the house, or if merely having most of the furnishings would suffice?
It is a day of lasts for me as well. It is, also, a day of packing, sorting through, being anxious about leaving and being filled with so many conflicting feelings. Will I ever come back? Do I feel like I need to, or want to come back? Making sure the on-board bags have all the things to keep a girl interested and entertained and not necessarily “plugged in” to the iPod or the movie screen. Taking pictures of all the art and projects that have been made, but can’t be taken home, so we can remember them or remake them in the future. Thoughts of what to tell mum to bring with her that we haven’t had time to get as bring homes. She has an extra week of lectures and “good-byes”. Do I have enough RMB for the exit fee? Can AEB take her play dough on board or will I have to pack it? Did I remember the…. The list goes on and my mind swirls. I love to travel, but for some reason I have a hard time with the day before take-off, especially if it’s me and the girl on our own and there’s not an extra set of hands to help. It’s the over zealous perfectionist that I can’t quite seem to squelch and let go. Letting go is important. I know this, I own this, I just can’t quite seem to do this.
And now it’s down to bits and bobs left to pack and so I must wait for AEB to get home from school to pack her rucksack for on board use and pack up the last of the dirty clothes that don’t have time to wash and dry. So, here I sit, one last time, in my new favourite nook, Librairie Avant-garde to grab hold of one last cappuccino, along with last thoughts and first thoughts before saying, “bye for now” as mum likes to say. You never know when you might be back so it’s never a permanent feeling “good-bye”. I’m seriously going to have a find a nook in my corner of the world when I get home.
When you’ve come back to a place you’ve been before it’s easy to try and compare it to the last time – I think it’s unavoidable. I’ve done that in past posts on this adventure. I’ve thought about the lovely times I had when I was here as a teacher and enjoying and hating the time here away from so much that was unfamiliar. I’ve switched gears and tried to allow this time to be the time that is supposed to be and not the time I want it to be or planned for it to be – which has been tougher at times than I’ve meant for it to be. Right now our girl talks only of home and how much she can’t wait to be somewhere that she can understand the language and where she can be understood. She talks of being glad she’s leaving and never wanting to come back. I am trying to honour those feelings and allow her to express her joy of going home and her joy of being in the familiar and the comfortable. I am trying hard not to squash her feelings. I am trying hard to help her feel understood. I am trying hard not to be grouch and tell her I’m sorry to hear her talk like that, because for all the hardships I know she’s enjoyed the friends that she has made. I know that she has enjoyed seeing the things we’ve seen. And I know that she will, eventually, talk kindly and fondly of China when she’s back in the familiar and home.
We’re now back home from a last day at school. I went over to pick up AEB and as we packed her bag the children were telling her “bye” and then her teacher came and then mum came and we went to thank and say “good bye” to the principal and then to deliver AEB’s thank you notes to all her teachers. She was so ready to go and not really wanting to say “bye” to everyone, but she did it anyway because it was, after all, the right thing to do.
Now it’s time for a last dinner and a last run around with friends on the playground before a last bath and a last sleep. Did I mention I get as nervous as a cat before travelling? If there really were butterflies in my stomach I’d swallow and olive and let them play footie! AEB’s friends were not out this evening – bummer! I don’t actually blame them it was registering 33 degrees with a heat index of 38, what’s a degree or two in the metric system? When the humidity is at 85% quite a lot! Whew. We’ll hope that mum can find the two little girls that our girl played with them the most and give them the gifts she had for them and our contact information in hopes of developing lasting friendships, but if not there are always pictures and memories. And so now bath is over and it’s about time for tucking in and falling asleep. I hope I can get some sleep. I will get up early to “shove” the last bits into the last open case before we head off to Shanghai and the airport. How did six plus weeks go by so quickly?!?