Skip to main content

All the feelings

Ups and downs  
Since returning from Nanjing, my head and heart have been an emotional swirl, now in a general upward swirl as the momentum and adrenaline of Heck Yeah Let's Do This is taking over with t-minus 15 days left in the US.

But many of my emotions are not China-related, while at the same time also very much China-related. Everything is connected. Butterflies flap their wings in China, and a monsoon lands in Detroit, right?

Anyway. Last weekend my sister came to visit with her son, my (first!) nephew, and it was a beautiful time. It was our first introduction and he's even more precious than I could have imagined. He is like her: a lovely, serene and sweet soul. (A side note about my sister: she is literally the most calming person I know. Being in her presence is just a balm, she radiates peace. She is nothing like me. :) )

I relate to my nephew differently than other babies I have met. While being an aunt is not like being a mother, it's also not like meeting a friend's baby. It is its own special thing. I felt an instant connection to him - like I'm his special guardian, but without all the baggage and anxiety of am-I-doing-this-right of parenthood (heh, sorry kids!). With my nephew I can just scoop him up and love him to pieces and hand him back if he fusses...this is what everyone has always said about other people's kids that I was able to experience myself.

But with my sister's visit and her new motherhood I feel we have bonded even closer and the fact I'm leaving makes all this achingly bittersweet. And big. Imposing. Huge. Everything is changing. And some of it is great, but all of it is new and a tad frightening. And the world is going crazy too, which doesn't help. And since she left I have been on the verge of tears at inappropriate times, like at the Whole Foods cheese counter.

Cheese Guy: Hiya, what can I do for you?

Me (what I actually said): Oh, I'm just looking for some gouda.

Me (what I was saying in my mind): I'm looking for world peace. I'm looking for everyone in the entire world to stop fighting and realize how good life is. I want everyone to stop wasting time on things that don't matter. And I wish I was President of the world and I want to lift everyone out of poverty and throw all the guns and McDonald'ses into the ocean. I want everyone who misses someone to be with that person. I want everyone who is sick to be healthy. I want everyone who has died to come back to life. I want utopia. Because I'm feeling overwhelmed. And also maybe I want some nice gouda cheese.

I fully acknowledge that every interaction I have with people right now is weird. I'm just going to own it. I stare goofily, wanting to blurt out to random passers-by, "You are so beautiful and you don't even know it!" I suppose I could get it across in a cool motivational speaker kind of way if I didn't look absolutely disheveled, exhausted, and insane. Like if I had on a maxi dress and chunky necklace and had actually bathed sometime in the last 3 days. So I say nothing but my glassy eyed stare is probably doing all the talking for me. *Sigh*

Reality is that everyone and everything looks more beautiful and precious and special to me right now. Maybe it's because I'm leaving this place and I want to linger just a second. I think it's a similar reaction to when graduating, or leaving a job you didn't hate but need to move on - you get sentimental; extremely so. You don't want things to end and at the same time you can't wait for new things to begin and you feel like you are cheating on your past with your future and it's all just a sad-but-exciting jumbledy mess.

You want to tell your past, "No, really, you've been great! But I can't ever see you again! I'm changing in permanently life-altering ways, but you didn't do anything to make me want to do that. I hope you're not mad...even though this is the end." It's extra weird when you feel like this conversation is not happening with people around you, but to yourself. I'm guessing someone one there knows what I'm trying to express here...

I blurt out, "I'm moving to China" regularly. Mostly to check-out line employees. Because I forget something I might need in China on a daily basis and am taking way too many trips to Target and Costco. So once I get to a check-out counter, I land on a moment where I have nothing to do. I'm held captive by the beep-boop-beeping of my almost-belongings past the scanner and I just wait there, limp with release of thought and action. I suppose I could distract myself with my phone, but that's rude. So instead I blurt "I'm moving to China" to explain my demeanor. And why my grocery list is an improbable combo of things like gouda cheese, 2 rolls of duct tape, 8 boxes of tylenol, bathing suits and chocolate chips.

Grief
On top of moving to China stress and excitement, there is also what I experience every summer: my father's death comes back to life. As soon as June hits, Cancer Diagnosis, Uncertainty, Decline, and Death start their march into my consciousness just as they did in June 2007. A friend just posted this most excellent quote, "Grief changes shape but never ends." ~ Keanu Reeves

Mr. Reeves has hit the nail. I am now permanently grieving and/or healing from grief, which sounds dramatic, but isn't. Immense, but simple: death brings grief, and grief is permanent fixture. Or perhaps a permanent removal of something. Like if I were to lose a limb. At the very least it is a state-change. But the psychological expression of this grief-state-change is that my awareness of death is ever-present and salient. Sometimes it is expressed as a fear of dying. But other times it is expressed as a desperately mad attempt to live this undeniably glorious life to its fullest.

China is giving me new life in this way. And in my happiness and excitement, I am also missing my father. I am missing the person I may have been if he were still alive, celebrating the person I have become without him. Oh geez it's a complicated thing: a woman losing her father. There's a great book written about it a friend gave me and I read shortly after my dad passed. The author has now gone on to write feline murder mysteries... (!) I mean, talk about a new life, right?

There is SO much waiting for me. I've been knocked over and I'm getting up in China. It's just so exciting.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Home

I never imagined when I landed in China one year ago I would feel like this knowing I cannot go back, at least not any time soon.
For a variety of reasons – we will not be completing our 3 years in China and are moving back…well, now. I’m devastated to be perfectly honest. But the last two months have been…beyond what words can really describe. Intensely scary and unnerving, testing the limits of my sanity and self-worth. It’s important that we come back.

I think some people would be overjoyed to come back because of top-notch medical care and Costco. I don’t really understand why I’m not, despite the fact I know it’s the right thing to do. I don’t think it’s just the exhaustion having sucked my ability to feel.
We made a home and a life in China. I was starting a new career. I was love-hating every single crazy minute there. I was making good friends. I was just learning enough Mandarin to surprise people. And for better or worse, I was reminded often of how incredible it was to be…

Goodbye My Friend and Inspiration

Today I discovered someone who has influenced my life immensely has died. We don't have close mutual friends so I can see how no one would have known to inform me. But that doesn't mean he wasn't important to me and that he didn't impact my life dramatically. It mostly means he was so humble and so special to so many people it would probably have been impossible to inform all the people whose lives he touched. It happened earlier this year while we were in China, in April, about a month before my own life began to melt down.

I am really devastated that I didn't know and had to find out through a Google search. I had just written to him a few days ago inviting him to the Pergolesi Magnificat in which I'll be singing in a couple weeks. I was so excited to tell him we were back in Michigan and we could resume our (too infrequent in recent years) visits consisting of hours sitting, chatting, drinking, and eating.

It was unusual for him to not respond to an invita…

My First Mother’s Day in China

I know a lot of people are celebrating Mother’s Day milestones – and I’ll hop on the bandwagon and highlight the fact I am celebrating my first Mother’s Day in China. Solo-mothering, in fact. Mike has a number of very important work and family obligations in the US and I appreciate his being the family ambassador.

Being a mother of three in China, as a foreigner (I don’t really identify with the word expat, more on that some other time, perhaps) is no small task. I’m not even gonna humblebrag about it. It’s just really, really difficult and I’m making it work as best as I can. 
So. I’m going to celebrate some pretty great Mothering in China milestones, and pat myself on the back. And while I know I cannot attribute my kids' success 100% to my and Mike's parenting, (sometimes I think they are great in spite of it!) because I know they are innately wonderful, capable people who are doing so much of this hard work on their own...I feel proud and my efforts have been well worth …