Monday, August 25, 2014

Set the Wayback Machine to...2013

The absolute worst part of this rock and roll lifestyle is, without a doubt, saying goodbye.  This is part of the reason I am in no rush to leave Mongolia.  When I left Korea, each and every time, it ripped a big fucking hole out of me.  I left behind beloved friends and students every damn time, and it's really embarrassing to cry in the pension office.  And on the bus to the airport.  And in the bloody immigration line.  Right now I have such a great group of friends that I really don't give a fig about the new teachers.  I'm sure they're very nice, but I lack nothing in the social department.  As for my students, well, I finally got to teach them again today, and it made everything right with the world.

That said, just over a year ago I couldn't imagine how life in Mongolia was going to go on.  I was losing Domestic Goddess, Fire Marshall, and Five, all in one fell swoop.  Mongolia was just "okay" until Domestic Goddess invited me over for dinner and strong-armed me into bringing them into Grub Club.  With the addition of them (and occasionally Goddess and Marshall's son), magically somehow things became different.
As the end of the school year got closer, we all spent more and more time together.  In the last three, student-free days, someone brought up the fact that we never had made our own Apples to Apples deck, and since they had nothing better to do, Domestic Goddess and Five got that done.

We ate at the Moose for the last time, and one game stretched into two.   I don't think Apples has ever been as funny as it was that night.  Even our "saintlier" friends (I've been known to call Five "Mother Teresa" and Engrish the "Dalai Lama" because of how nice and even tempered they are...I, on the other hand, proclaimed myself Stalin last year after a couple of run-ins with a staff member who apparently thought her coworkers should respond to her craziness with warm fuzzies) couldn't help chortling at some of the card combinations that came up.

The next night Domestic Goddess and Fire Marshall were leaving.  Five wouldn't leave until after summer camp, but I would all but miss her, since my flight back from Nepal got in just before she shipped off to Canada.  We dragged it out as long as we could.  When we were finally free to leave school, we headed to California for drinks.

It was hell.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I don't do well with goodbyes.  I get a look on my face like someone just killed my kitten, and while I try to limit the waterworks to the very end, I'm pretty sure I don't make things easier for anyone else.  This is the lowest low of the roller coaster I talked about yesterday, but on the other hand...well, I think Bronte said it best when I left Korea the second time.  I'm paraphrasing, but basically she told me that it was worth the pain of saying goodbye, because it meant that you had lived fully in those moments, those relationships, that you had put all of yourself into them, because otherwise it wouldn't hurt.  I've known expats who basically live the same lives they had back home, just long-distance.  They might be in a different country, but they don't immerse themselves in where they are.  Oh sure, they go out for drinks, but their primary relationships are with their family or even friends back home.  Their standard of living doesn't change - they don't take buses or trains, but instead take taxis (or drive themselves, if they can get away with it).  And that begs the question: what's the point?  When I visited Chengdu last March, the Traffic Inn had a note in their bathroom that said if you ignore a place's customs, avoid its people, reject the food, etc, you'd be better off staying home, that you are like a stone thrown into water.  You get wet on the outside, but don't become part of the water. 

Sometimes it hurts like hell, but I'm proud to be part of the water.


  1. I guess I should comment instead of just reading your blog to avoid call-outs on Facebook. I am so glad our paths crossed and I am sure they will again!

    1. Heheh - just trying to be helpful ;-) Any chance Chennai will be looking for another art teacher for next year? Miss you guys!