Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Return

We have been on US soil for approximately 48 hours now and I am not really sure what to say about it all. I think I will need a little more time to unpack, unwind, and try on this new life of mine before I am able to share what I am thinking and feeling. For now, the fog of jet lag and the task of starting life all over with my husband and twin toddlers is taking much of my time and mental energy...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Repatriation: Covered Over

“My new life back in the United States lay before me with a degree of mystery and heaviness as I weaved the buggy from one street to the next”….

The paths I have carved will soon be covered over by others. The people and places I have come to know and love will continue on. The security guards, the elderly ladies, and the various neighbors walking along will no longer marvel at the shuangbaotai as we enter their gates, walk down their streets, or pass by their knitting circles. The guards who sit at the entrances of my xiao qu’s (neighborhoods) will go on greeting other foreigners as they venture in to wander the quiet streets- hoping to catch a glimpse of local life and perhaps understand the culture a little more. They will all continue on with their daily lives; unchanged by our absence.

It’s hard to comprehend what life will be like in the absence of Shanghai. While I have ideas of what life will be like back in the US, I do not know what it will be like as a repatriated expatriate. It’s commonly understood that repatriation is oftentimes more difficult than the initial move to a foreign land, and I am not na├»ve enough to think that I will escape this difficulty.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Suitcases

We finally sat down today to discuss the inevitable week before us. Procrastination is one way of explaining how we got to this point; but we realized we were down to the wire, so it was time to do something. I think the combination of my moderate recovery from aforementioned sinus pressure, our first farewell party with friends last night, and the realization that the movers are coming in oh…1 week!- has motivated us to get on with the tasks at hand.

I started making mental notes about what I could live without for the next few months, what I absolutely had to have with me, what would go into our large shipment, what would be packed and taken by us on the plane, and so on. It all feels a bit surreal. I have started to go through the motions; now I guess I will have to wait and see if the reality comes along as a result of these motions. I keep waiting for this whole thing to sink in and hit me, but the reality is- it may not until I get back to the US and start settling into my new life there.

After our "planning meeting" I began gathering all of our suitcases- pulling them from their various hiding spots throughout the house, dusting them off, and taking inventory of the tasks that lay before me. As I stood there looking at the collection of empty suitcases awaiting their future contents- it occurred to me that I've lived in this city over 4 years now. These rag tag suitcases have flown countless miles and journeyed with us on some of the most amazing, beautiful, and oftentimes challenging adventures throughout China and the world. I have built a life, a community, started a family, and experienced more than I could have ever dreamed possible over these last four years, and now it’s time to pack that all up into a few suitcases and move on…