Planning, anticipating, preparing — and all the other “ings” that go with getting ready for a home visit. There are a lot of positives (seeing family and friends, being home, enjoying all things familiar), and a lot of negatives (packing, long flights, last minute rushing).
When it’s all over, was there let-down? Do you distort reality before it IS reality?
First, the positives. I love the crystal clean air. Everything I look at outside has such clarity! The clean air, blue skies and fluffy white clouds are mesmerizing. I can’t get enough of the greenery all around me, from trees and grassy fields, to farm lands full of fresh crops. The scenery alone is enough to make me realize I took that all for granted for most of my life.
The road system is relatively stress-free. As long as I follow the road rules – yes, follow the rules – then everything is good. Driving isn’t such an exhausting test of mental strength and I’m not tired in the end.
Enjoying a variety of large, fresh, creative and tasty salads is one thing that I particularly enjoy when visiting home. There are many other comfort foods – from restaurants to simple guilty pleasures – but having divine salads tops my list. Shopping is another treat, with set prices (although I have gotten used to lower prices in China) and an abundance of choices. It’s just easier.
Of course, seeing family and friends is wonderful. Being a world away tends to shed light on the physical distance, and you realize that those important to you really are important. Sounds silly, but it kind of sets a perspective that might not have shown its face before. Life is short, and making these visits count becomes more urgent.
Unfortunately, there is the flip side to these visits. Most revolves around the logistics – if you no longer have a home where you’re going, then that means living out of a suitcase for six weeks and less than ideal sleeping arrangements (sofa beds, anyone?). Certainly, the plane ride alone is a negative. If you’re in coach class and/or with children, there’s just no way to sugar-coat being cooped up in a tube for hours on end.
Sharing your China experience isn’t as easy as you expect it to be, either because you really can’t sum up your life here, or because nobody’s truly interested in details about something with which they can’t relate. Trying to please everyone is also an impossibility that I try to tackle every year, and I’m not sure when I’ll learn that it isn’t going to happen. There’s always the need to follow new sets of rules and expectations while under someone else’s roof, which can take some adjustment as well.
I could go on and on for either side of the equation, for sure. And I could convince myself that one side wins…or the other, depending on my mood at the moment. But I think regardless of the “winner,” one thing I can be consistent about is that it is always been good to return to China after summer break. This is where life — although maybe out of the ordinary from our previous life — IS, and where family IS, and where returning to normal IS – even if for a short time.
The grass tends to always be greener when you think about “going home” to visit or “coming back home” to live. Distorted or not, that’s the true reality.