It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve written a post here, so I figured it was time for a bit of an update. Or a summary, or at the least a few salient points. Or not: every time I’ve attempted to sit down to write, I’ve learned (and relearned) the impossibility of summarizing years of one’s life in a few short blurbs.
So I won’t even try. Suffice to say that I’m still in San Francisco, I’m still teaching (now at a really awesome school for recent immigrants – check it out at sfihs.com), and I recently got married to a pretty special guy (my abovementioned 菜).
However, I was inspired to write because I’m heading back to China for over a month this summer. In the past year, I’ve felt especially disconnected from the country; it’s been nearly two years since I last visited, and, with my slowly improving Spanish and the mysterious lack of Chinese newcomers at my school, I find myself speaking less Chinese and more Spanish in the classroom. This is good for my multilingualism but less good for my Chinese. It’s been hard to feel like my Chinese is slipping away, all while watching China continue to change and move (from my perspective, in both forwards and backwards directions).
And thus, once again, onwards to China, a land of appropriately chaotic excitement and motion, of ever-changing lights and sounds and tastes, of instability and upheaval strangely rooted in profound continuity. I’m hoping to get a better sense of what’s been happening while I’ve been gone, and hopefully some insight into what might happen in the next few years. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and students, and re-immersing myself in Chinese and Ti$etan languages and cultures. And I’m sad to leave my 菜 behind as I do.
I’ve always been afraid of stability. While I’ve always cherished having a home base, I’ve worried that being overly committed to one specific life – in one specific place, with one specific job, surrounded by a specific group of people – would be confining, restricting, suffocating; that settling down would limit my ability to take advantages of opportunities that came my way, would limit my freedom to make unusual or unpopular or unexpected choices – and thus make me feel normalized, mundane, uninspired – the Average American.
And so I got married. And both before and after our marriage, I’ve found that “stability” does not necessarily require stasis; that there is much beauty in commitment and connection; that there are many ways to nurture strong relationships and build community while still making the crazy choices that enable us to live our lives completely. I still don’t think I’ll ever find myself one hundred percent “settled” in one place, tethered to one small life, when there are so many experiences and people and places and communities in this surprisingly vast world. But I never wanted to go through this life of exploration and curiosity alone.
And thus, commitment. I could not ask to be surrounded by more loving families and communities of friends to support me through the coming years. But most of all, I’m grateful to my 菜 for committing to me – and to being willing to join me as we explore a beautiful, strange, and inspiring life together.