My heart was full this morning when I walked out of our building complex and down to the main road pushing my double stroller. I saw everything as if in slow motion:
The elderly woman sitting on a sofa by the gate, smiled at me, waving at Sophie and Anna, her eyes glowing.
The familiar face of my friend the pineapple seller; he was bent over, scraping a pineapple, but he looked up, his face creasing into a smile when he saw us.
Two women, walking arm in arm, smiling at my children, crying out, "Oh, look how cute!"
Turning my head to the right I saw my friend the vegetable seller, smiling, lifting her hand in a wave.
The men gathered around an outdoor card game, looking up, smiling, nodding at us as we passed.
I think what I'll miss most about China is the beauty of its people.
I remember when I first moved here from Washington State, I said goodbye to the tall trees, the snow-capped mountains, the trails. I came to a gray city, which, at the time, had a dirty canal running through it and zero vegetation. I wondered how I'd survive our two year contract.
But one day I had an epiphany: there are other kinds of beauty. Dig deeper; find them.
Eight years later, I've found beauty. I've found contentment. Eight years later, I'm leaving it.
The thought of leaving, returning to the mountains, to the trees, to the winding rivers, is exciting in some ways. But knowing that I won't have this, this procession of loving strangers, these smiling acquaintances, threatens to shred my heart.
Will I be able to dig deeper there, too? Can I have the best of both worlds?