|Agora: Symbolizes the aimlessness of people.
Where am I going?
Where have I been?
My makeshift pan of lasagna is in the oven, so it’s time to update my blog!
Well, as soon as I recovered from jet lag to Chicago, I reversed it and am currently struggling to throw it off now. I keep falling asleep around 7:30 PM despite every attempt of mine to stay awake until 10 or 11. And, I keep waking up early. Like 4 AM early. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
The advantage is that I am up earlier for work, but that still makes me majorly grumpy that I can’t sleep in. Today, I had a student ask me if I had gotten up late for work. No, I hadn’t – I was up at 5:30. He asked this because my hair was crimpy/wavy. Well, that’s just my hair type unless I straighten it with my tiny, useless little straightener that I had to buy on account of my blowing the fuse in my travel adaptor which allowed me to use my US hair straightener. Dear USA: Get on the 220V cycle! Seriously!
I took a holiday from my blog after talking about how weird it was to be home again. Not weird in a bad way, but weird in a deja vu way, like you’ve just been here but you haven’t been. I’d lived in the Fox River Valley area for five years, and I knew many of the backroads, so I drove around for two hours with a hot, delicious skinny peppermint mocha from Starbucks in my cupholder, just touring around to see the snowy cornfields and red barns, the dead, twisted-limb trees and the icy, frothy river. The familiar stores and restaurants. This had been my scenery for the last five years, I hadn’t really taken the time to appreciate it. To view it. To see it as part of the setting of my life, if I ever were to write a biography.
I was just here, but I wasn’t.
The saddest part was seeing the Chick-fil-A being built where I used to teach. Unfair!
In a dramatic sense, definitely not the saddest part. However, the reality is that my transition to China occurred so quickly that I didn’t really have time to make peace with everything there. Not that I had to make peace with the Applebee’s or the red barn, but just to make peace with a part of my life that was closing and closing very suddenly. I was hired in middle of May, and I left for China on August 1st. Two months? Perhaps ten weeks at best? I closed out the school year, packed up my apartment and moved, shoved a lot of crap into my suitcases, and just…left?
The abruptness of it all struck me as I sat in a Starbucks and had another coffee. Like a child losing her blankie, I had just given up my comfort zone, a life I knew well enough, a role I knew well enough, and left the bleeding country. I didn’t move across the US – I moved to China. I don’t think I realized what was all entailed until I had the chance to reflect on the HUGE change I’d made.
What does it entail, then?
I made a list on the back of Starbucks napkin as I sat there. It’s meant learning a new language. Meeting new people with wild biographies. Learning a whole new curriculum. Learning new names. Learning how to get around in a city so huge and vast that it’s the largest in the world at 23 million people. Culture shock. Lots of crying. Lots of realizing that who I was changed the moment I stepped on that plane. That you have to strike out on your own to discover things. That comfort now means a cup of hot green tea and rice crackers on a cold afternoon. It might mean having to get used to no heating or squat toilets. Or, standing there stupidly because you have no idea what the other person is saying.
As I closed out 2012, I had to think of what I was doing a year ago. I wanted to go overseas, but overseas meant the UK and Europe. I thought that was the next step. When that didn’t happen, when I expanded my horizons and looked beyond my own narrow scope, I found a rich opportunity that not many others get: to teach internationally and to learn how adaptable one can be.
I made this decision with a lot of prayer. I feel that it’s right, but that still doesn’t negate the doubt I feel on days when things don’t go quite right – when I’m frustrated with communication break-down or trying to find something I need. Or when I just want a dang pumpkin spice latte.
Life is what we make of it. I truly believe this. It’s a series of choices you must make and a willingness to compromise when the choice you’re given is different than what you wanted. Whether “yes” or “no,” the choice is profound. I just never wanted that feeling of regret or to know that I let the fear of the unknown overwhelm me.
I can only imagine what 2013 has in store.