Later today we will leave Mainland China. We will once again board the Ferry to cross the Pearl River Estuary to Hong Kong and after spending the night in HK begin the very long jaunt home. Hong Kong to Detroit (roughly 17 hours) plus an hour and twenty minutes in Detroit where we hope to get through customs and make our connection, then Detroit to Minneapolis (two hours), and once all of our luggage arrives - an hour and half back to St. Peter.
Curiously I am almost at a loss for words. My anxiety level has been on the rise for the past few weeks. I am ready to be home – but not excited about the time and effort it will take to get between here and home. Most of the apartment’s household items have been boxed, hauled up to UIC, and left for future visiting faculty.
This past week was filled with many meals and many goodbyes. On Tuesday, we went with my good friends Kris and Yanyan to a YumCha restaurant in Zhuhai for morning tea. Tuesday evening, I went out with five other colleagues for seafood. Yesterday, I had lunch with Sandra and Andy, two of my colleagues from “Whole Person Education.” Sandra directs the choir at UIC and has also been a good friend. After we had finished our lunch she quietly sang the Jewish folk song, “Shalom, my friends,” to me. “Till we meet again, till we meet again, Shalom, shalom.”
Last night, Bob, Josh and I walked to Tangjia and ate dinner at a favorite restaurant that we simply refer to as the “dumpling place.” No one speaks English there, but we have figured out a number of items on the menu we all like. We walked back to the apartment through the streets of Tangjia, and Josh said, “Remember the first time we walked through here?” I want to process what these past months in China have been all about - but right now everything just feels raw.
So instead, for now, I focus on the task at hand: The last of the packing and cleaning up. One step at a time – a van to the port; the Ferry to Hong Kong; the airport express to the hotel; the airport express to the Hong Kong airport; a plane; customs; a plane; a car and home.