This week I feel like I’ve just been getting by, you know, just surviving. I wish I was in a season of thriving. Some moments feel like they are thriving moments, but many feel like I am just surviving until Greg gets home from work. I guess the good news is that there are more moments, even whole days now that don’t feel like I’m in complete survival mode, so that’s progress right? As they say, “Long days, short years”.
I’ve been trying to take more pictures of our life here when we’re out and about, and trying to capture a bit of what daily life is like here in Shanghai. We recently found out that we’ll be repatriating next year, which has always been in the plan and is still subject to change but still makes me feel like I’m on the downward slope of cultural adaptation. What I mean is that now that I have an end date in mind, I’m suddenly seeing more positive things about life here. Perhaps its because we’ve been here almost a year and a half, but maybe its because I know I won’t be here forever.
The thought of ending our first expat assignment makes me a little sad too. In many ways, although China is a challenging place to live, I feel like I’ve come home to my people, the expat community. This is my first overseas assignment as a real adult with kids and financial responsibilities and stuff, and that makes this a very different experience than other cross-cultural opportunities I’ve had. My experience as a TCK makes me feel much more at home, in some ways, with other expats than I do in my culture of origin. The thought of not being around this community anymore is bringing up a lot of feelings that I didn’t realize I still felt deeply. Feelings of loss of friendships, loss of being in a place in life that makes me feel simultaneously both exhausted and alive, the anticipation of the excitement and difficulty of repatriation, and the prospect of feeling out of place again. I know I’m just a triangle pretending I’m a circle and worried that my corners are showing.
Of course I’m looking forward to being “home”, and all the joys that brings with it. I’m looking at you, Target. And of course being near my family, friends, church, the beach, and Disneyland!
Funny cultural story of the week. TMI alert!
I was in the bathroom, you know, doing what one does in the bathroom. I heard my phone ringing a room away, and then my ayi calling my name while the sound of the ringing phone got louder and closer. Soon she was outside the bathroom door with my ringing phone. I tried to tell her to wait a minute, that I’d be right there. But, alas. Either she didn’t hear me or didn’t understand my meager Chinese (or both…?). The next thing I know, as I was sitting on the toilet, she opened the door, answered the phone, and handed it to me, then walked out. Cue chirping crickets. Fortunately it was just the hubs and not some random person with whom I actually had to sound professional. It was an awkward conversation anyway.