I lived a third of my life in China; I miss speaking Mandarin on a daily basis. I’ve been feeling very in-between. I feel far from China, and far from Australia, but I know I don’t totally belong here, either. Australia is looming closer. The more I think about it, the harder it hits that I have left the only life I know, and am heading into something very unknown.
Soon the Cambodian Stars became one of the last things packed and first things put up whenever I moved. And when I myself moved to Cambodia the Cambodian Stars came home. I hung them in my bedroom – a promise, a reminder.
Yesterday was a big day – I send the first draft of the book to my publisher/editor. I had my first Khmer (Cambodian) language lesson. Finally, it was a big day because it marked one month since I arrived in Phnom Penh.
A lot of people have made comments along the lines of “but you’ll be back”. I hope that’s true, but I don’t know for sure. It’s important to me that I close this chapter well, that I don’t leave things hanging. I need this to be a real ending.
I haven’t read a lot of books about China, but these are the three China books I really, really like – and highly recommend to anyone who wants to understand more about China: River Town, Dreaming In Chinese, and China Road.
While I’m not excited about leaving China, I am excited about WHY I am leaving. As surreal as it is to be leaving the world I know and love here, I want to continue to grow – which means being me in different places, doing different things.
I am obviously foreign in a country whose citizens are, for the most part, quite ethnically homogenous. I stand out. Not everyone sees past it all and connects with the person underneath. I love when it doesn’t matter that I’m a foreigner.