Monday, April 2, 2012

Back in Kansas ( with my portal key to OZ)

It feels like I never left. But at the same time it feels like I have a connection to another world that I remember and that I want to hold onto and keep connected to.

Like in the (trippy... really bizarre.) 1980's movie sequel to "The Wizard of Oz",  "Return To Oz" (starring Fairuza Balk as Dorothy) where Dorothy is given a special mirror and is told by her blond fairy-girl friend that "if you ever want to return to Oz, I will make it so". 

Two happiest moments so far: 

1. talking with this friendly, talkative, Chinese-American security guard when I was crossing through customs. Asking him ( in Mandarin) if he spoke any Mandarin or Cantonese (speaks Mandarin, not much Cantonese), telling him happily that "I'm going back in a few months!" ( to Oz/China/Taiwan), and talking about teaching/education in general.

2. updating QQ/downloading the newest version on my laptop here and logging in and seeing messages from both Metis and Lisa! QQ works here in the USA ( some Chinese people did not think it would.... I don't know why?... maybe because Facebook "doesn't work" *wink.*in China? )

I know... saying "seeing my family waiting for me at the airport!!!" would be the most logical, expected happy answer... but honestly, it wasn't. It was VERY GOOD, but not my "favorite"part. Maybe that's some reverse-culture shock talking, because I do love them and I was happy to see them, I'm just being honest in what I was feeling/experiencing in the moment, coming home yesterday.

Sitting on the plane, waiting to get off, I was feeling kind of disconnected and unemotional. Kind of frozen for a minute ( despite all of those teary "email reading" days/nights in Starbucks in China) wondering how I would feel. Wanting to feel that longing to be home, despite not being able to believe that I WAS/AM home already. "They've missed you and you have MISSED them terribly at times just... remember that" - is what I tried to tell myself to bring myself back.

However, any emotion that I was feeling, or attempting to "revive" was overshadowed by the fact that I thought that I lost my luggage. It was taking forever to come down off the plane onto the belt. Then I only saw one of my bags and thought either that #1 - someone had taken the other bag off by mistake thinking it was theirs or  #2. that the bag had been lost. They didn't come off together and I was already figuring what I had lost ( mostly clothes in that bag) and what I would have to do next. Report it to someone? 

Luckily it came down and I got it and "the wheels stopped spinning" so that I could get back to feeling/realizing that I am HOME.  Coming around the corner and seeing Mom and Dad, and waving to them... crying and hugging ... all of us. It WAS good. They look the same and honestly, it felt like I had been away for a week rather than a year! It felt like no time had passed. Luckily also, I was feeling energized and awake at the time so that I could engage in conversation when Mom started talking " a mile a minute" updating me on everything and everyone that had happened/what had happened to them, while I was gone. They had hired a driver that my friend's sister and her girlfriend have used before. He/We stopped at "Dunkin Donuts" on the drive up, when we hit Westchester and so my first food on US soil randomly became a small french vanilla coffee with milk and sugar and an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese.

I unpacked a little, watched some tv, ( don't remember what I was watching now... maybe it was a little CNN?), didn't start to feel sleepy until around dinnertime. Mom made chicken soft tacos and we talked a little about China and North/South differences, languages/dialects ... it's good that, so far it's not like a Q & A session. They haven't pressed me, don't want to know everything that happened during the year all at once. Very relaxed. I have a feeling it will all unfold in lots of conversations ( and of course showing them pictures and videos here on my laptop!) over the next few days/weeks/months. 

I fell asleep at 7pm last night, and now it's 3am on April 2nd here now. So my jet-lag is mixing things up a bit. But it's not like I'm sleeping through the day. I'd rather go to bed a little early than sleep from 10am to 5pm and sleep the day away.

I opened some things that I had ordered online, to be shipped to my parents house, while I was away .... and so I had a "little Christmas" - a new BOOK to read "Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception" by Maggie Stiefvater, some Cafe Bustelo Coffee, a pair of "Chinese reflexology sandals" (that I had seen on Samantha Brown's  Singapore episode on her Travel Channel show.... :p) 

and apparently a copy of Jane Seymour's book that she wrote in the 1980's, a fantastic, hardcover beauty titled "Jane Seymour's Guide To Romantic Living" . I forgot that I ordered this! haha I remember back in the 90's when one of my best friend's was a big "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman" fan, she had found this book somewhere. Lots of beautiful, great pictures.... tips to live a "Romantic Life ( for yourself - with or without partner) Everyday!" I think I must have been feeling nostalgic for the 90's the day that I clicked the "Order" button.  But it's a great coffee table read :)

Back to China...  the "Tomb Sweeping Festival" has started in China. It is a holiday to remember your ancestors ( or just relax and enjoy two consecutive days off!) I think most people will be off from work on Monday and Tuesday. 

In the QQ message that Lisa sent me... she ended it with "Wo men yichi jaiyou!" - "We'll do this together".  Talking about her desire to move to the US to live and work permanently one day. I told her that she has to learn more English, she has to take English classes. It is the #1. thing on the list. It is SO important in the long run. Now that I know that she really wants to do this, to live here and work here someday, I am getting a real education in US Immigration Law.

I've come to realize and really respect people going through the process ( and am envious of those I see who have already gone through it ..... there was a sweet, old, friendly Chinese man at customs yesterday talking with the guard and he mentioned his "green card")  Getting that Green Card and/or eventually US citizenship, is ( often time consuming and expensive) work. So my deepest and most sincere congratulations to anyone reading this who might have just gotten that green card or citizenship.

I have been sending FB messages with my friend's sister's girlfriend - who has gone through the process ( although she moved here from Australia, so learning English was not a priority for her). She told me that she has a great immigration lawyer that we can use if and when the time comes. Lisa has a degree in Economics and she currently works for Land Rover in China. I feel like she has the discipline and motivation and energy to get a job here, it's just a matter of ( learning English) and finding one.

At this point I am really motivated and energized and excited to learn more about US Immigration and to do the footwork and "brain work" to help her from "this side".

It's interesting (and frustrating) to note that although gay marriage is now legal in several states, because it is not recognized at the FEDERAL level, a gay couple- one American, one foreigner- cannot get US citizenship for the foreigner through marriage ( like many heterosexual couples can, and do). So it has to be through your job sponsoring you.

I don't know what everything will look like in the next 2-3 years. All I know is that I want to help Lisa to eventually live and work permanently here in the US. I know that between now and then I want to live in Asia and to travel/learn/explore more of that side of the world. But I think ultimately we will come back to New York permanently at some point (?). Or maybe she will come visit me in Taiwan and we will get so comfortable there that she will not want to leave? ... I don't know. I just want her here. I want her in my life. That's all that I know for now. And I'm willing/excited to help to make that possible in any way that I can. "Wo Men Yichi Jaiyou" - we'll do it together.

Right now I feel very happy to have my "portal key" to keep me connected to my other "family" in China - not just Lisa, but my TA Metis, "Bella Jeh-Jeh", and Jenny and her family. I ALSO know that "Auntie Em" and "Uncle Henry" here are happy to have me home here for a bit.... and I'm happy to be here and to see them too :). It feels more like I've been away for two weeks as opposed to a year. I'm happy and excited to be "on this side" again now at this point. I also know that a year is truly not a very long time and I will "Return To Oz' very soon.

(hopefully avoiding any "Wheelers" and/or "evil headless women who keep a variety of heads with different hairstyles in their closets" the way most women keep their shoes, in the process!)

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