Our last day here was perfect, in a completely chaotic and weird way. We closed our bank accounts, we ate lunch with Harry and Shaka at the cafeteria, we packed and packed and took a Chinese-style afternoon rest, we went to dinner at our favorite Muslim noodle place, we talked and laughed with students.
In the morning, we gave a box of butter cookies to the man who delivers water jugs to our school and has carried countless jugs up the six flights of stairs to our room over this past year. He always greets us with a smile and a 'hello', and is quite possibly the friendliest person I've ever met. Shaka was with us, and he told Shaka in Chinese that he was so moved that he had no words to express how much us giving him those cookies meant. You could see it in his eyes that were starting to water up, and his smile that just kept getting bigger. It made our day.
In the afternoon, we took the 776 orange bus instead of walking 20 minutes to our village, and the intersection traffic was quite possibly the craziest we've ever seen. At dinner, a family owned hole in the wall that we love, the sons cook the noodles, the mom fries everything up and the little sister runs around the place playing and occasionally listening to her mom or brothers boss her around. Over this past year, she's gone from scowling at us in the beginning to slowly looking at us a little more, but still very skeptically. Tonight, she went all out. I played a game of "boo!" with her for a good ten minutes, getting the biggest smiles and chuckles out of her. It was as if she knew it was our last night. It couldn't have been better. We walked back to our grocery store, bought a few things, and waited for the 776 to come back. It did, and didn't respond to us waving it down. So, we walked a little further down in the village and relished in those last 10 minutes of intense "staring at the foreigners" before another orange bus came and did stop for us. Tonight seemed to be a sign that things change, people move on, nothing's ever the same, and life is still good. A perfect ending.
I've decided that China is that best friend you've had for years, or a sibling. You don't always understand each other, and there are some things you never will come to an agreement on. You argue, sometimes you really can't even stand each other and need a little break. But in the end? You'll always be a part of each others life, and if anyone ever tries to put them down...you'll fight back and defend that friend with all your might.
It's officially time to get all kinds of emotional.
The last blog entry I'll ever write from this exact spot. It's a place I've become so comfortable with. My desk, usually littered with Nescafe cans and notes from students that say things like "I do not want you to go back to your motherland" or "I love you", Martin's desk to the right, our office door perpetually open so that students can walk by and scream "hello!" and giggle at us, the five minute walk from here to our giant bed in our tiny dormitory....I'm going to miss it all more than words can express.
This isn't the first time we've moved, nor will it be the last. But this time certainly feels the most final. We don't know when we'll be back, if ever. Certainly we'll come back to China at some point in our lives, but how will it have changed? Will we come back to Shenzhen? To Bao Gao? Will we ever see any of our students again, or our Chinese teacher, or our Chinese English contact teacher we've come to know and call our friends?
It will be back to the world we left, however changed or altered it might be 11 months later. Questions swirl around in our minds and conversations about the return to a culture we know so well, 'our culture'. Will it still feel like home?
Regardless of all these questions and uncertainties, one thing is for sure: I cannot wait to get off that plane and hug all the beautiful people I've missed for the past eleven months.
Goodbye, China. You've been good to us.
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