I think I have attempted to start “the next post” three separate times, but the sheer amount of activity in the last 2.5 months has been simply overwhelming…combine that with the fact that I find it incredibly difficult to put words to what we have experienced in this amount of time and it is no surprise I’ve been avoiding the next update like the plague. While I am still three travel posts behind, I feel compelled to bring everyone up to speed in one fell swoop. Here goes:
When last our saga left off David and I had just completed the Great Wall Half Marathon and were going on our third week living out of a hotel. We would go on to say goodbye to colleagues and friends in a dizzying blur of parties and KTVs, I would quit my job and accept an offer with a new company (in order to continue doing the same job with the same people in a different location), and we would take one last trip with our Swedish friends to Thousand Island Lake (千岛湖) before leaving China. I would also go on to become a master of run-on sentences.
We did our best to soak up every last minute we had left in China, but by this point we could tell we very much did not live there anymore. Almost everywhere we went and everything we did centered on saying goodbye to the people and places we had met. We were struggling to find “normal” on our way out the door. It got to the point that I was anxious going to meet people because I was so tired of only being able to say goodbye. At this point normal became “in transition,” and it was a rather long one at that. As I sit here today to write this I think we have finally found our “new normal.” For now.
Our return home was a flurry of activity. We were reunited with our animals. We ate entirely too many hotdogs. I bought myself a new car. Our permanent storage shipment was delivered. I did a dryathalon relay with some friends. We unloaded all the boxes all over the floor. We went to visit friends and family for a weekend. Our basement flooded. We moved everything back above-ground to add to the chaos. We visited more family across the state before my sister’s family moved to England. Our sea shipment from China arrived bringing with it yet more chaos. We visited even more family for some birthday parties. Our bed finally arrived 6 weeks later. We went to a Jimmy Buffet concert in Chicago with friends. The last few gifts we received in China showed up in our friend’s shipment…and then we had a rest. 我们休息了。
The animals seem to have made peace with their old home.
And their humans have more or less adjusted as well.
But we will never be the same…and we are all the better for it. People have asked how it was and what it was like, and we give the quick highlight/lowlight reel in response. The truth is, it is difficult to explain all the changes and experiences we had in just two short years. Looking back, we accomplished a lot, and I hope this blog can serve as a reminder for us of how far we have come. As for the future of Expedition Expat, I imagine there will still be plenty of new discoveries to share. As such you can expect less frequent but no less quirky posts from “us” in the future.
We have already purchased return flights to China for a friend’s wedding in November, and it is just starting to truly sink in that we no longer live there. This “extended vacation” we have been on at home is likely to be a bit more permanent than we probably realize, but at least adjusting to the how-to’s of daily life was far less complicated returning to the US. There are many things and people we will miss, and routine tasks like grocery shopping or asking where the restroom is are far less interesting…but this is not the end of our story. It is but the next step in our journey.