Hellos and Goodbyes
As one chapter of a person’s life closes, usually a new chapter is opened at the same time. As they say goodbye to the things that are familiar, comfortable, and known, they are often opening the door to many things that are brand new, and unfamiliar, that can leave them feeling uncomfortable. Saying goodbye as a chapter ends does not only mean saying goodbye to people. It also applies to things and places as well, and sometimes these goodbyes are really difficult and other times, these goodbyes feel like a relief or a blessing.
For me personally, there are many things, places, and people that I am in the process of saying goodbye to as I prepare to leave China after being here for 8 years. Friends that are so dear to me that I may or may not have a chance to see again in this lifetime. Places that I have grown accustomed to and foods I love to eat, I will also be leaving behind. A job where I am happy, known, and generally appreciated.
This reminds me of the lyrics from a song:
“It well may be“For Good” from Wicked
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…”
I have had some extremely dark and challenging times while living in China, but I’ve also had some amazingly blessed times. The people who I have met during both the challenging and the blessed times have made my life in China all the more better. I could list every single one of you, but there are almost 1000 people on my WeChat and another 500 or so on my QQ, and no one wants to read a long list of random names. Plus, I wouldn’t want to forget anyone by mistake. Just know that if I have crossed paths with you while living in China, you have impacted my life in one way or another and I will not soon forget you.
Though I have titled this section as “My Goodbyes,” I truly hope that all of these goodbyes are really just “See you laters” because I hope to see you again soon.
Before I get to my hellos, I’d like to take a moment to address my inbetweens. Now, you may be wondering, “What are inbetweens?” or “Is she talking about her time at the airport?” Well, yes and no. Yes, I will be passing through 2 cities and 3 airports before I reach my destination and the start of the next chapter of my life, but that’s not really what I’m referring to.
For me, the inbetweens are the big areas in my life where there are still many unknowns. For example, the biggest is probably my career. I’ve been a teacher for 8+ years and as of last week, I closed that chapter in my life. I can tell you what my ultimate goals are in my career. For now, I want to get a job as a software engineer, doing anything really to where I can continue learning software development on the job. My ultimate goal, however, is to land a position as a software engineer at an EdTech company that makes VR for teachers and for the classroom. I truly believe that as much as we as people tend to fight against the ever trending “Metaverse,” the classroom will never truly be the same as it was Pre-Covid. And overall, we will be doing ourselves and future generations and injustice by refusing to embrace these advancements in technology within the education environment.
Oh how I wish we could have done dissections in biology class in VR instead of in real life or been able to travel to historical locations like Anne Frank’s Hideout in history classes. These are things that students can already do in VR and there is so much more coming in the future! I’ve already got some great ideas as a former English teacher of what I would do!
All of that to say, my career is a HUGE in-between for me right now. Along with plans of getting married eventually, finding and renting/buying a home, and making friends. The truth is that inbetweens are scary. They can be exciting, but there is generally some sense of fear because they are unknowns, and I am feeling both the excitement and the anxiety revolving around the inbetweens in the next chapter of my life.
Making friends. This is one of my inbetweens. I have been outside of the US for so long that I have lost contact with so many friends from high school and college. There are maybe two people who I still keep in touch with from my time before going to China and even that is inconsistent.
Maybe that makes me a bad friend or just someone who accepted the reality that I moved out of the country and life went on without me. But either way, now I am finding myself moving back to my home country, but to a new city and a new state where the only people I know are my soon-to-be family members. As the opposite of a social butterfly, I will sit in a room full of people and not talk to anyone until they talk to me. I am totally down with chatting, but I don’t usually start conversations!
I guess I’ve got some work to do on my social skills and making friends. But though I am nervous about having to make friends for the first time in a long time (I feel like it is so much easier in China to make friends), I am so excited to meet new people! Future friend, if you are reading this, thanks for reading and I look forward to meeting you!
Regularly Scheduled Hellos
Alright, back on topic now. With goodbyes, often comes a lot of hellos. There are so many things I know that I will be saying hello to, for example, I will be moving in with my amazing future-in-laws, who have graciously agreed to let me live with them for a while. I know most people struggle with their in-laws, but I’ve known mine for nearly 15 years and I love them dearly, so, I am pretty excited about it. (Though they aren’t super excited about my 2 cats coming to live with them, hopefully, there won’t be any problems there!)
I’ll also be saying hello to my family for the first time in nearly 3 years. Though I won’t be living in the same city or state, I will be so much closer, and assuming I can find a job and can afford gas, I will be only a few hours’ drive away, as opposed to the 9,000 miles (14,484 kilometers) away that I have been for the last 8 years. Though most of my family and I talk often, I’m so excited to be able to see everyone in person, and though I am not a hugger, I am ready for some hugs!
I will also be saying hello to the “new America,” which for everyone who lives in America, this probably sounds super strange, but think about it, America today is not the same as it was 3 years ago when I last visited. It certainly isn’t the same as it was 8 years ago when I first moved to China! So, I use the term “new America” to simply address the fact that things change over time.
I will also (hopefully) be saying hello to new friends and colleagues, and at some point after I self-quarantine, a new church family. And I am excited to meet each one of you! But I’m also nervous for that first hello.
Finally, I will be saying hello to the love of my life for the first time in 3 years, since the last time I saw him. The thought of this sends butterflies through my stomach. It has been far too long thanks to the global pandemic, but I have been counting down the days for over a year now. As of the time I am writing this, we will finally be together again in 4 days and 13.5 hours. It is crazy to think that this day is finally so close, but I am so ready! Hope he is too! Ready of not! Here I come!
See You Later
As you can probably see, new chapters are never really all that easy, but while the goodbyes are often sad and some times long, and the inbetweens can be anxiety inducing, the inbetweens and the hellos can also be a cause for celebration and excitement. I’m going to do my best to lean on the excitement as I spend 2 more days saying goodbye to the people, places, and things that I have come to love so dearly in China.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post! I will be sharing more on my journey back to America in the coming days and hopefully weeks. Feel free to follow along and I’ll do my best to keep posting and sharing in my journey.
If you’d like to pray for me, continue to pray that none of my flights get canceled, that the documents for the cats are approved, and both cats and I arrive safely on Sunday afternoon together as we start our next chapter!