Today ended four days of lunches, dinners, and outings with some of our Chinese friends. It’s a kind of last mad rush to get in those experiences we’ve been meaning to get to, but, for some reason, haven’t had the opportunity to do. Seems odd in a way. When you stay in a place for five months, you would think a person would have ample time to see a country, even a country like China. And it probably would be enough time if your job was to travel to as many places as you could. But our situation was something else. We really just picked up our daily life, for the most part, and moved it 7,000 miles from home. We still had to get up and go to work, buy groceries, pay bills–all the matters of daily life. We just had to do it in a place where we couldn’t drive a car or speak the language.
Now we are preparing to go home. Char finished school on June 15, after a tearful week of good-byes to her students. Some of the kids became quite attached to her. I think she has rather fond memories of her students and her time teaching in Hangzhou. We still have to take a walk around West Lake, a 10-mile hike we’ve been meaning to do for some time. Otherwise, we will be packing and trying to decide what to take home and what to throw out as we make ready for the trip home.
In some respects, we feel a certain urgency to hurry up and see more sights or go to the missed restaurants or landmarks we haven’t yet gotten to visit. On the other hand, we feel a certain need to begin letting go of a place for which we have developed a deep fondness, spawned primarily by the friendly, warm, and hospitable Chinese people. This is difficult to do; it tugs painfully at our heart-strings.
We leave for home on June 27. It will be a bitter-sweet homecoming.