I'll be leaving for LA tomorrow. I'll be there for about a day, and then it's off to Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jilin, and then another year in the middle kingdom.
Going back to China is hugely different than going there for the first time. I can't get nervous about it. I know what I am going to be doing, I know what to expect, and the overwhelming anxiety I had this time last year has been supplanted by an almost nonchalant sense of expectation. I'm happy, even eager, to be going back.
But I don't want to go back. Not now, at least. A phrase I accidentally stumbled upon yesterday sums it up nicely: it's not the going that's the problem, it's the leaving. Going back is easy, living in China is fun, it's just that I feel like I've just arrived back home. The summer was a blur of home and friends and family, and I want more. I talked to Nicki recently, and I'm jealous that she has a life to settle back in to, and a new stage in her life to begin, while I'm uprooting again to go to a totally new part of a foreign country for another year; in some ways, this second year feels like idling in neutral. I spent time with Jim and Law last week, and I'm pissed that I don't have time to head down to Florida to see Fitz. And even with an on-again-off-again, pseudo-impromptu farewell party, I feel like so much is going to happen while I'm away.
For good or ill, it's time to pack up everything I own into two small bags for another year away.