Friday, July 24, 2015

Goodbye to our First China Home

It's 10:30 PM. The house is still and quiet. And full of boxes. We're moving tomorrow.

The water filter is washed, the last suitcase sitting open ready to load in the hanging laundry (really hoping it dries by tomorrow morning!), and I just had to sweep the kitchen floor one last time. Thankfully, though, I don't have to worry about cleaning too much, as we have until next week to return the keys. So though tomorrow will be a goodbye of sorts, I will see this place again, mop in hand!

Baby girl kicked me around 10 PM, reminding me that usually at least by then I'm laying down so she can do her bedtime party dance. I know, little one, I should be in bed... But with all the adrenaline that comes with packing, while my body is exhausted, my mind is awake. Writing is always a good wind-down for me.

Ryan and I are opposite in this - packing fires me up, while just the thought exhausts him! We make a good team, though. I do the organizing, he the carrying. :) And while he looks at me incredulously when I declare, "I LIKE packing!" - I mean, who wouldn't like organizing chaos into neat, stacked boxes?? - we are grateful we balance each other out. And when he takes his little girl out to play while I get more boxes packed after supper, we're both happy.

It's here. We've put so much time and effort into getting here. The thought of moving has been around for months, the actual application of it rolling for a few weeks. Some things worked; we've accomplished cleaning and getting some things fixed, as well as multiple trips to IKEA for new decor and useful items. Others, like painting, didn't happen. Try as we might to get it painted before moving in, due to miscommunication (which is hardly surprising, considering the language barrier!) what we thought was a guy starting last Monday to paint turned out to be this Monday. By then it was too late for us to consider painting it ourselves (probably a good thing!) so we'll have moved in when the painting begins. But, with the hassle it is to go back and forth to let people in and answer questions, it will probably be easier in some respects to be living there. And with safe, low VOC and odorless paint bought, all should be well.

Though we're just moving 5 minutes away by taxi - 20 if you walk it - there's still a lot of lasts we've been realizing. And while we're happy to finally be moving, and I can't wait to be able to just roll the stroller in and click a button to go up instead of either lugging a toddler and a bag of fruit while climbing, or going at a snail's pace holding her hand (and a watermelon or jug of water in the other!) while she takes each stair carefully... We will miss this place. It's been a good apartment, surrounded by great people. And those stairs? Well, they taught Hadassah how to count in Chinese...

I looked up the Chinese for "I will miss you" to tell the vegetable stand workers when I bought my last eggs from them this morning. I tried to explain where I'd be moving to, but the name of our new apartments in Chinese is so long I have yet to remember it, and they didn't quite understand my pronunciation of the road name. It's still so hard knowing people yet not being able to really actually communicate with them. But while I've never exchanged more than a few words with them, I WILL miss them. They always knew how many eggs to count out when they saw me coming, always had huge smiles... They watched Hadassah grow up, and though she started refusing to let them hold her months ago, they always greeted her with excitement and often had little treats to give her.

The familiar paths hold a lot of memories for us. Hadassah learned to walk here. She learned to run. She knows the way to the slides and the way to the "ruff ruff doggy" we used to check on every morning. She also knows the direction we go to the "ca-caw!" (eagle statue on campus) and suggests we go there almost every time we leave our building door.

I took her to the playground one last time in the late afternoon. She was amazing playing while I packed for quite a while, but little ones still need their time to run around and the break did me good as well.

 And run she does! Down down down the ramp of this building near the playground, then up again. I'm happy to say our new place has one of these right outside of it!

 When I ask her to smile these days, more often than not, she'll give me a face like this... I think she knows she's cute. ;)

And of course, she had to go many times down the slide! I'll miss this play area, in it's shady, breezy spot.

 But there are some things I won't miss about it, like the almost rusted off poles at the top of the stairs. I often put my hand to guard it as she climbed, as her foot often got so close to getting caught and scratched. But, with likely the last climb done (unless she plays here when visiting friends), I can breathe a sigh of relief. We survived without any nasty scrapes.

We'll definitely be back to the area. The hardest part about leaving this apartment is leaving our neighbors, who have been such good friends and such amazing help to us our first year in China. It is sad to think we won't be just across the hall. We said goodbye of another kind to one of them, though; he's going to America for a year, to do research at a university there. She may join him, at least for breaks, but will likely continue working her job here. It's not uncommon in China for spouses to work in different places without anything wrong in the marriage, and I can tell they will miss each other. And we'll miss visiting with them together, the guys carrying on long conversations about anything from politics to religion while we gals watch the kids play and compare notes of how they're growing and changing. We're promising ourselves to make sure we come back to visit often and invite her and their boy over to our new place, but I know it won't be the same...

And yet, there are new friends. We already know almost as many people almost closer in our new place than we do in our current complex. It's a good move. But still hard to say goodbye, even to just the guard gates who give smiles and waves each time we pass.

I'll also miss the shops just outside the gate. Our new place is a little more isolated, though still not a terrible walk from a fruit stand. But after a year I finally decided to really embrace having a corner bakery, with croissants that make the best chicken salad sandwiches, so I will miss the convenience of picking up fresh baked goods for a meal whenever I want!

Ryan had to take a picture as we put Hadassah to sleep in this room one last time. We've made so many memories cuddling on the big bed as she drinks her milk, giving kisses and a family "squeeze!" hug each night. She's grown from a little 7 month old to a big girl of 21 months while sleeping in this room... It's pretty crazy how much she's changed in that time frame.

And yet, I can't wait to decorate her new room! Painted pink, with more child-size furniture, we'll make it a fun place for her to grow and play.

Funny how things can be both happy and sad to say goodbye to. Like our living room rug. It's pretty horrible quality, never fully vacuuming clean, picking up dirt easily, and shedding things that then stick to itself. I'm glad it doesn't match our new place, and will be happy to see it placed by the dumpster. But, we play copycat on it almost every night, as Hadassah makes sure we each sit in our "own" flower...

Anyways, enough reflection. I think my mind can at last wind down, I don't think I've forgotten anything major, a shower sounds amazing, and tomorrow will come too soon. At least though, tomorrow I'll get the easy job: directing traffic while everyone else carries the boxes. ;)

This whole moving process has taught me even more reliance on others. Our whole China experience really has. It's not something I enjoy doing and I'm still learning... I'd rather just do things myself instead of ask for help! But with the language barrier, we couldn't even call to hire a moving truck or even order pizza to be delivered for our great volunteers. Thankfully we have amazing friends, old and new, who always seem so happy to help with whatever. We get more community by having to ask. But it's still hard for my independent self to do. Guess God's using it all to refine me.

Until next time! It may be a while... Ryan hopes to go and get internet installed at our new apartment on Sunday afternoon. But with the last time he went to the office, just to renew internet that had been turned off, taking 4 hours, we'll see if he can get them to understand correctly that he needs new service at a new place! There are definitely adventures at every turn. But, God is faithful. He always continues to be.

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