Here goes my flight. Here I sit in the airport. Bags are checked. I am not sure what I’ve forgotten yet. My ‘last supper’ was Zachary’s deep dish pizza, salad with ranch dressing, wine, and my puppies in the backyard. In typical Rachel fashion, it was a long stretch of packing for a week, several lists of things I needed to accomplish with only one or two items crossed out before I lost them, and then a last minute scramble.
Then I was ruthless in packing at the last minute. 150 lbs is not a lot, if you think about it. That’s like putting my mom and two dogs in a bag and thinking that’s enough to live with for the next two years. Come to think of it…that might have been more comforting than making sure I had my favorite Tevas and Ranch dressing packets and ratty sweatshirts.
In the end, only my shark costume made the cut to come with me. Which is kind of poetic slash social justice warrior of me to wear a shark costume in a country that eats shark fins. It’s my first subtle protest in Asia. Not all heroes wear capes.
In these last few weeks, getting ready to go, God was seriously saying “yo, it’s gonna be okay” to me because I could not turn a circle without meeting someone who had lived in Hong Kong, loved Hong Kong, had friends there that they were already putting me in touch with before I even said “yeah I’d love to!” Even the woman who was cashing me out at REI for a new ol’ faithful backpack was born and raised in Hong Kong. I couldn’t believe it.
I’ve joined a few facebook groups and blogs of professional women who are ex-pats in Hong Kong, and because females are the sh*t, some have already reached out to me to answer last minute questions and demand happy hour meetups on my arrival. People are great.
If you are a praying kind of person, here are some that I have as we start heading towards boarding time:
Easy flight – I once saw an engine blow outside my window and have been in some pretty harrowing storms during international flights…I know the stats on plane safety and I know it seems silly to still be afraid to fly, as much time as I’ve spent traveling, but I am pretty freaked out by the thought of 14 hours in the air over water. I was on swim team and all, but…
Luggage mercies – May everything arrive intact. May 150lbs be enough clothes and shoes to get me through the next year. If everyone I’ve met who has lived in Asia has felt compelled to warn me that I am larger in both height and…depth?! circumference? than most sizes stores in Asia carry (including my bestie’s boyfriend the very first time I met him…) then I know I need to take the clothing aspect seriously, lol. (“lol” being said in that sarcastic way, where you’re like, “well…going to start that diet just about any day now, I think. Maybe. If I can summon up the cares and throw away the cupcakes.”)
Job stuff – I am SO ready to work after the last year of craziness and then quitting my job because of reasons. I really need this next job to be fulfilling and to figure out if I’m meant to stay in education. I need a challenge for my mushy brain. I will be doing something I’ve never done before, and I’m worried I’ll miss the classroom, miss close relationships with kids and their families, feel a bit outsider since I won’t have a traditional teaching role…but I already know this will be an important step of growth as a person and professionally.
Life Stuff – I’ve been struggling with a lot of doubt lately. We are all constantly making decisions that have long term consequences, but deciding to move to Hong Kong is probably the biggest one I’ve made yet, and I’m not sure if or when I will know that it was the right choice.
Maybe we never know and we just make the best of things. But as I get older, I’m starting to look for more proof that I’m not just getting older, but also getting better. I’ve been doing all kinds of things lately that make me feel “grown up” – I learned how to barbecue tri tip with my dad’s secret recipe, how to use to the automated postage machine at the post office, I ordered foreign currency from the bank, FINALLY backed up stuff to the iCloud although God help me I really don’t understand where or what it is.
I have some goals I want to set for this time there. There are countries I want to see and friends I want to visit. I want to add ‘conversational Cantonese’ to my resume and to enroll in another university program. I want to get back to church – it’s been five years since I felt connected to people that way and I miss weekly life groups and weekend retreats and leading worship. I want to hike something tall and re-certify in SCUBA diving and eat a bug on purpose. I want a selfie with a panda, a koala, and a kangaroo.
I want to finish my thirtyfive by 35 bucket list, make friends with people from a ton of different countries, figure out how to love running, and figure out how to leave the world better than I found it everywhere I go.
Also – if anyone knows the Olympic people for the USA and they need a hype woman, you give them my number right meow because Winter Olympics is in South Korea and I am all about that.
Thank you – thank you to my family and friends near and far who have been with me every step of what has sometimes been a painful and embarrassing journey these last few months. Thanks to my parents who always let me have friends over and stay up too late in the backyard, to my grandma who just is amazing, and my sisters who get me. To my best friends who always listen and who understand when I go silent and reach out.
And thanks to a long list of random people who have read this blog over the years and felt compelled to reach out and send a message of encouragement. It means more than you know. I don’t know why God made me the kind of person who only understands herself when she word vomits it on the internets.
Here’s to doing things – big or small – that scare us. And here’s to the people that help us along the way.
If you haven’t heard it yet today and you need to – BOOK A TICKET TO HONG KONG THEY HAVE PANDAS THERE.
I’ll talk to you from the tomorrow.