In less than 72 hours I’ll be back in the States and it’s hard to believe that my second year in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />China is over. In many ways this year was better than the first but in many ways it was also more difficult. But it was still one of the best experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have and it has change me in ways I don’t even realize yet. I’m leaving my home of the past two years with mixed feelings.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
There were days I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else and couldn’t see my life back in the States, and there were days when I couldn’t wait to leave. I suspect people who leave their home country for an extended period of time have the same feeling.
Of course I missed the comforts of home but the frustration of not being able to buy hotdogs doesn’t compare to the events I missed out on. Missing the special days, my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, a close friend’s engagement party, holidays, and birthdays were especially difficult. Missing these things, coupled with life sometimes making it difficult to keep in touch have made me worried about a disconnect.
When someone leaves for any amount of time relationships change. Sometimes they can cope with the distance and the time, but sometimes they don’t, and being someone who’s quite insecure in the strength of relationships, in all forms, it’s something I worry about. Will I feel a bit lost because of new inside jokes between friends? Will my niece and nephews still want to hang out with me after having been away for so long?
Will the connections that were once strong be able to cope with this transition? I think so, but I have to understand that I can’t just jump into my old life, especially since I’ll be moving back to D.C. and the desire to do so will be great. I have to accept that I’ve changed; my circle of friends and family has also changed. A balance will need to be found and it may take time. It’s going to take time for me to adjust to living back in the States and I can’t rush the readjustment process.
For better or worse China has become part of me, I will carry the experiences I’ve had here for the rest of my life. But it’s time for this chapter to come to an end and another to begin and I can’t wait to see what will happen next.