Thursday, June 4, 2009

Good Grief!

Today was the last day of school.

I shed tears at the bus stop this morning, and not because I woke up with Richard Marx hair (which I did). It was my last day at the bus stop with my kids, hanging out with all the other moms (and brave dads who aren't ashamed to join in the "mom conversations" that inevitably happen), and waving as my children pulled away from the curb in their school buses.

I was coping until my friend Rachel said, "Well, this will be my last time at the bus stop." She's moving down the road to a different housing complex, so her bus stop will be different next year.

No sooner had I given her a hug than I felt the gunk rising in my throat, the tears stinging my eyes, and thought, "Oh boy, here we go."

The beginning of grief.

I looked around at all my friends -- some of my best friends in the world! I hugged a few of them and let myself cry.

My friend Kristen commented on how different people grieve. Some get it all out of the way beforehand; others, as they're saying their final goodbyes; still others, after the vehicle pulls away and friends are out of sight.... "And some," I thought, "grieve the whole time."

That's going to be me. I hope I don't fell a rain forest with all the tissues I'm going to have to use.

Thinking about grieving for my left-behind life in China started me thinking about all the things I'm going to miss :

My friends
My kids' friends
My ayi
My stairs (built-in work out)
Our international fellowship (a.k.a. church)
Tianjin International School (what a great place for my kids to attend, not to mention a wonderful work environment for my husband!)
Karaoke with my friends
Chinese food delivery
Street food (especially that pork sandwich thing with the spicy green peppers)
Traveling to Hong Kong
Fresh pineapples
Riding bikes
The unpredictability of life

... and some things I won't miss so much:

Answering the same set of questions over and over and over again
Watching the poop spin in the toilet but not flush down
Piddling water pressure
My stairs (it's a love/hate relationship)
Being dishwasherless
Being clothes dryerless
Having to dust every day
Permadirt on my son's knees
Being perpetually scolded by elderly, well-meaning strangers
Finding things I've looked for stuffed in strange places in my house because my ayi was "cleaning up"
The lack of breakfast cereal
Dust allergies

... and some things I'm scared spitless about:

Forgetting all my Chinese
My children being stolen (America's a dangerous place! ... compared with China)
My children being rude and loud in restaurants
My children learning bad words in school
Mortgage payments
Being a nobody

Feel like encouraging me as I move across the ocean? I'd welcome any comments that start with, "Don't worry, Amy, it's not that bad!"


  1. it's a time to let go, but a time to get to start over. it is hard, but there is something exciting isn't there? there were a bunch of moving trucks this past weekend in our complex. i kind of envied them. a fresh start. a new adventure. a change.

    there is a lot you are leaving behind, but there is a whole new world waiting for you!

  2. Don't worry, Amy, it's not that bad! But I, myself, am wiping away some tears as I'm remembering those times, EVERY summer, saying goodbye to some dear friend... and then ALL of those dear friends when I was the one leaving. And I too grieved the whole time... even 5 years later. China's a great place. So is America though. New friends, clean produce, grassy yards, bigger libraries, more church options, and biological family. But enjoy a da bing ji dan for me, ok? And maybe some hotpot. :->

  3. You'll never be a nobody!!! You're so NOT a nobody!

  4. Thanks, guys! I should clarify the "nobody" thing, because my mom and mother-in-law both scolded me for saying that, too. I've gotten used to my celebrity status here and the celebrity status of my children. It's going to be weird (and wonderful) to walk into a supermarket and not have everyone staring at me and trying to talk to me and attempting to grab my baby out of my arms.... It'll take some adjusting. I wonder if I really will MISS it or not, or if it will be just pure joy to be just another person and not a "waiguoren." Does that make more sense?

  5. Wow...celebrity status huh? Looking forward to hearing more about that. You just might be a celebrity in Prosser too. "You're the woman who lived in China! Can I get your autograph?" Or, "You're Ben and Norma's daughter-in-law! Let me hold your baby!" Or, "You're Aaron's wife! You know Aaron won a state championship, right?" Or, "Your the football coach's sister-in-law. How's the team looking this year?" Just kidding of course on all of these. Christy and I can't wait to see YOU and your family back in the States and in Prosser!

    Side note: what is an "ayi"? Sounds like a maid maybe.

  6. Don't worry, Amy, it's not that bad! The first couple months were the worst. And I have to admit that it still feels wierd to me to look around and realize that NOBODY is staring at me. Did I disappear?

    However, today, just two days shy of our one year in America mark, I commented that it was easier to figure out what to buy at the grocery store when we were in China. I bought everything we liked! One or more of each, every time. Now I go through the door and think, "Wow. We like ALL of this. How do I choose?"

    And in a way, I'm kind of glad that I still feel a little bit of culture shock.

    It will be fun for me to re-live it through your blog.

  7. Thanks. You all are amazing encouragers. And you made me laugh! :)