This is your final night in America, Earl. Possibly for a very, very long time. This is something we need to meditate on…This sense of fear, intermingled with joy and anticipation for the unknown. Right now, how do we feel? Well, your eye hurts a lot, for one. You should know better than to sleep in your contacts, dummy! So that’s a minor damper on the evening, but VERY minor. You and your family are going to Olive Garden for one last night out; how fun is that? Yay for AUTHENTIC Italian cuisine!
So there are regrets…You really wanted to get up to Buffalo, but schedules and finances wouldn’t allow. You really wanted to crack down, stud Rosetta Stone and have a basic grasp of Mandarin, but video games wouldn’t allow. You really wanted to find a new job and get even MORE money in the bank, but that didn’t pan out either. But you didn’t spend your time idly either. You spent a lot of time with your mother, your father, your step parents, your brother, and your friends in Delaware. You did many great works for them; painting, shoveling, and whatever else needed doing. You were saving money back in August for this, not to mention selling a ton of stuff in Austin, researched China, saved lots, got money as Christmas gifts and overall have a solid financial foundation. It’s been a good two months, really.
But now a new chapter begins. What you’ve been working towards is finally coming to pass. Why is it that it never really hits you until the last second? Your palms aren’t sweating, you aren’t overly nervous. Good. Confidence is what we’ll need to tackle Asia on it’s terms, as we’ve planned. Only this time, we won’t be scraping by. Those days are done. You’ve a job with a tremendously good salary for the region, all of your utilities covered, and in a land where food is ridiculously cheap. And we both know how much you love food. Your plans for Asia: live, laugh and learn. And not to quit early. Because if what you’ve heard is true, China’s culture shock is immense, and most turn away after their time is done, and a few before. Well, you’re not like those Westerners. You wanted to learn about existence from ALL points of view, and this will be growth for you, Earl. Never give up. When you’re sitting in your room alone and depressed about whatever it is at the time, just remember: YOU’RE LIVING IN FUCKING CHINA! Find those Qui Gong classes, talk to a Neo-Confucianist, go to that tea house we saw on Google Earth, get a massage, buy a train ticket to Tibet, take your camera downtown, do some karaoke, eat some noodles…And don’t be a stranger. Reach out to your fellow teachers and don’t be the sociophobe you’re always afraid you’ll become. China ain’t got NOTHIN on this.