I have returned to China.
There is a weight to that statement that has never been there before. Perhaps it’s that this last month has been the first vacation I have had in adulthood, and returning to China represents returning to normal life. But there is more to it than that. Normal life has come to mean something that isn’t entirely comfortable. I live in place where I don’t understand most of what people say to me, where I am almost completely illiterate, and where much of the time I feel useless.
During my holiday, I helped unload a delivery to a food bank. I planned and executed a four-day camping trip to the Grand Canyon with my mother. I managed to use cheap public transportation in a rural area of the US. (That’s not as easy as one would imagine.) And the week before the big day, I helped my step-daughter pull off two weddings and a reception, one in Saints Peter and Paul Church near downtown San Francisco, and the other in Alamo, an hour away. I was a competent and useful person. I had conversations with interesting people, and enjoyed getting to know our new British in-laws. I was in my element.
I am not now.
I see now that it was much easier to write about going home when I was actually in my natal home. Back here in China, I am struggling to breath. Life wears me out by 8pm. I dread leaving the house to do something as simple as mailing a letter, because really, it’s not that simple.
But we must be patient and gentle with ourselves. I am jet-lagged. I haven’t been running or doing yoga for two weeks. I have had a cold with a nasty cough for more than a month. And if I let myself feel the discomfort of returning, I remember that I was not so comfortable my first week back in American either.
I turn my sights forward now, and realize that part of the cure is learning. I have been tied to my classroom and a desk for these 5 long years. I now have the opportunity to go and explore my “city by the bay.” It’s not as gorgeous as San Francisco, but there are plenty of stories to learn, and in doing so I will be learning more Chinese, and hopefully increasing my sense of home as I settle into my skin again. So look forward to more China Chronicles, dear readers. Who knows what I’ll dig up as I learn more about Dalian and China?
How do you feel when you return home after a vacation? Refreshed and revitalized? Lethargic? How do you use your new energy or overcome the lethargy?