The last time I visited home was in the winter of 2019. It has been a quite eventful four years since then. I have been trapped in China, living through some fairly interesting times, as the old proverb goes.
Now that the Co-VID SARS II restrictions are finally being lifted after a recent flurry of panic that involved daily PCR testing, and finishing the school semester online, I am going to visit home. I had originally considered waiting until the summer, however I will be renewing my work visa at that time, and I did not want to risk running out of time on my current documents. –In order to return to China, I need to show the authorities that I have reason to be in the country; therefore the necessity of maintaining a current Z-class visa.
Although international travel restrictions are being eased, I am still unable to leave directly from Beijing. I shall have to travel down to Shanghai's Pudong airport and leave from there. This adds a lot of stress to my travel plans. I will need to take high-speed rail down to Shanghai a couple of days ahead of my departure date. Then, I will need to take a PCR test so that I can re-enter the United States. The day after that, I board my flight.
I am not exactly looking forward to the journey. But, I have something like three or four years of mail and business piled up at my kid brother's place that needs to be taken care of and cleaned out. I may have to rent a PO Box in Philly to ease the burden on my brother; but we'll see.
I am sure things will be fine once I am home. But it is going to be something of a "working vacation" for me this time. I will not have as much time for fun and socialization as I would like. I have correspondence to review, credit cards and bank cards to collect, licenses to renew, accounts to visit, new electronics to set up, clothing and winter gear to pack, and so on.
There is a lot I would love to bring home to storage. A lot I would love to bring back with me to Beijing. However, since I have to travel between distant cities before even boarding my flight, carrying more luggage than a single traveler can handle alone is simply not feasible.
Furthermore, I have two graves to visit; during the time I have been trapped here in Beijing, both my uncle and my stepfather have died. And a very dear friend has become quite ill, and is possibly in the early stages of dementia. Of course, I knew, when I came to live in China, that Life back home would not simply pause for my convenience. But this is bitter.
And so, I am ambivalent. I look forward to visiting home, seeing family, eating familiar foods (deli!), visiting with friends, and collecting gear that I need to bring back to Beijing with me. But the trip itself? And the constraints that will be on my time? These, I could live without.
Oh, yes—Happy New Year, Merry Christmas—Western and Orthodox– a belated Gut Yontif for Chanukkah, and whatever else I may have forgotten.
As for the obligatory New Year's Resolution, to be broken within the first month or so, I will again promise (probably an empty promise, mind you), to post regular updates here on the blog.