I’ve wept upon leaving places.
I’ve run away from places.
And Wenjiang? My new school? In the Lifetime Movie of my life, I walk around the classroom and gently touch mementos of a four-month experience that has changed me for the better. A small smile tugs at the corners of my mouth as I recall hijinks or that one great day where I succeeded at getting a point through the barrier of language. In reality, I slowly walk around the classroom, swatting mosquitos and throwing away the food in the refrigerator. My feelings were…a little muted. I am sad to say goodbye to the people who have been so friendly. I regret that the teachers and I did not bond until my last two weeks here.
I rejoice at the thought of going home, where I can understand all the signs. It might sound touristy or hopelessly Western of me, but it has been hard not understanding 95% of what I try to read. I’ll be happy to go where there is Internet that simply works. I’ll be grateful to drink the tap water again.
Truthfully, I will miss my students, though not as much as the Lifetime Movie Channel version of me ought to. Instead, I feel very practical about everything. My suitcases must be packed, my room tidied and emptied. The classroom needs to be cleaned and locked It might be because I am so undecided about my emotions that I default to logistics.
That is a safe thing for someone with mixed feelings – break it down to immediate needs. I pack my medical suitcase, filled with treatments I thankfully never had to take. That surprises me – I ate a lot of local food and things I probably should have avoided, but I only got sick once. I pack up the souvenirs for family and friends, the packets of tea, the decorative tassels, my red clay teapot. I leave behind my newly acquired heels, my dishes, a pack of instant ramen, and my little dragon turtle statue.
And it is not as though I am going home straight away.
I’ll be in Beijing and Xi’an for the next few days. So there will be photos and stories aplenty before I have to write travel stories about the Midwest.
Suitcases packed, classroom cleaned, I stare at my uneven floor, my broken shower, my IKEA furniture and the tiny touches which made the space my own. I might feel a twinge of sadness. Endings are always a little sad for me – they represent a change, and most of my life is change.
Off I go, into the wild blue yonder!