I always did like the way Nicki made such a ... succinct (shall we say) exit. And here I am, dragging out my goodbyes and my final tenuous tethers to China, to my time there and this long discursive digest of what it meant and continues to mean. It's time to put this chapter behind me for good; if not China entirely, then China circa 2006-2008. This isn't so much closing the book as it is more like shuttering this volume, placing it back on the shelf, and reaching for a new one. One that I am writing now, one that may or may not be accompanied by a self-obsessed blog.
So: Nicki left before me, just days before in fact; I left Jilin with James and Jim similarly eager to leave, while Kevin remains there, at least until summer; and Aaron is in Zhanjiang, preparing to assume a bigger role in Maryknoll. Congratulations are in order, because I can't think of a better person for that job, other than the man currently doing it.
Today, and I hope until the day I die, memories from China and my travels in Asia randomly bubble up to the surface, a smile blooming on my face as they break through the surface of my conscious mind, like spotting an elusive whale or a rare fish brilliantly leaping out of the murky calm, dazzling you with profound happiness and awe. I can hardly believe all that I saw and did and experienced during those two years, the stories I have to share and the memories I will forever treasure, and I am grateful to so many people that helped me along the way. And I've gotta say that I'm really grateful that I had the foresight and stubbornness and sheer will to take that first step and get on the plane. It was a move that felt half brilliant and half insane, and it's up to you to decide which.
I would like to thank you, reader, and readers past and present, for taking the time to humor me by reading these posts that I spent far too much time polishing. This blog was never more than a butcher shop of vanity, but while keeping the folks at home informed about what was happening to me on the other side of the planet, I hope I was able to offer some insight, however brief, of worlds some may never see.
In a final self-referential nod, I really do think I said it best when I first left Zhanjiang, when I first tried to put this past into words: you too, dear reader, can do this. You can teach, you can travel, you can make your life the meaningful and fulfilling adventure you always hoped it would be. And you should do it, too; you should kick your own ass to do it.
Well ... I'm back. That's it! Thanks for reading! And who knows what will come next? It's a magical world, Hobbes 'ol buddy ... let's go exploring!