I have now been at SMBC for a whole week – so here are some stories from my first week of my new life here in Sydney, Australia. I am amazed at how settled and content I feel just one week in. I do expect the weight of the transition to hit at some point, but I live on a lovely campus with lovely people and am enjoying the study so far.
I have thought a lot about what it was like to leave Australia for China. It is the only other transition of this magnitude that I’ve made in my life. I knew when I left for Beijing that it was a Real Move, a permanent change, that I would not be going back to where I was, or who I was, before. I feel the same way now – that this is a bigger change than I can articulate.
I leave Cambodia for Australia tomorrow morning, 11 years since I first moved to China. I have crammed a lot into those 11 years! My whole adult life, the whole span of time lived outside my parents’ house. My entire career. All the things I did on my own, as an independent adult, I did in those 11 years.
I enjoy having an outlet for my thoughts and I am constantly surprised that many other people are interested in those thoughts. As this year comes to a close I’ve been looking back over this year’s overlap between what I find interesting and what you find interesting – the posts that received the most traffic in 2014.
Six weeks from today I will arrive in Australia and my life will be over. The life I lived in China is no more. I don’t have a life to go back to anywhere in the world, not even Australia.
For the first time since leaving China more than two months ago, I spent time with people who really KNOW me. I came back feeling refreshed, and more myself than I have in a long time. I also gained an extra measure of hope/reassurance about my imminent move to Australia.
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.
It’s been a week now since I left Beijing and arrived in Phnom Penh. All in all, it’s been a great first week – a great start to this “middle” time I find myself in. I am delighted to feel so at home, and look forward to engaging in life here while I can.
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.
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 remember how different my apartment felt when that furniture arrived. They weren’t just things – they meant something. It’s so strange to think they won’t be mine again. That these solid pieces of my life in China are just gone.