The story continued from Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (part one)
When I arrived at the Yanjiao preschool after the three-hour subway/bus trip, I was greeted warmly by the teachers and given hugs and kisses by the students. Inside, I was crushed knowing it was one of the last times I would get to be with them. Upstairs in our shared office, I told Vivian that I had to move. She was just as stunned as I had been. It seems nobody had bothered to mention it to her either. We hugged tearfully and I went home to get a shower. (Finally!)
I made that shower last, too. Because there is no shower at the Beijing preschool (although I am continually told that they are putting one in “tomorrow” it’s been a week and still no shower). The teachers wash their hair in the big industrial sinks in the hall and take sponge baths in their room.
I got to bed late because I’d been given some computer work to get finished up and sent in to Nili that night (because, oh yeah, I didn’t have my computer with me in Beijing either). Although I’d been promised that they’d send a car to pick me up so I didn’t have to carry my small mountain of luggage on the bus, I hadn’t been told whom to expect or what time to expect them.
Aside(with a nod to Maggie): everyone seems to laugh at me and all my luggage. I’m convinced the Chinese could carry a year’s worth of belongings in a backpack. They always shake their heads when they look at my (now) five suitcases. I always justify it because I had to pack for a year! And I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t think I would be able to buy clothes in my size.
Aside, Aside: Although I originally arrived in Beijing with four suitcases filled with my belongings, I now have five because my dear sister sent a suitcase with Nili filled with school supplies, textbooks, vitamins, candy, and Christmas gifts! I had been very excited to receive this suitcase, but it had been left with Maggie and Molly in Beijing. One of the original purposes of my trip into Beijing on January 3rd had been to retrieve the suitcase and bring it back to Yanjiao, although with the looming move that was no longer necessary.
So, 7:00 a.m. I awake looking forward to making my standard breakfast of eggs and ham and leisurely sorting through my things and packing them. But, at 7:05 a.m. the phone for the downstairs door rings. It’s Flower from the preschool and the van is here for me. What?! I’m not packed, not dressed, not ready. Sigh.
I quickly dressed and frantically began packing. Two of the teachers, Vivian, and I start throwing things in suitcases. Most everything made it into a suitcase for this trip. I left some things behind hoping I would be able to come back and get them soon (giving me an excuse to see my friends) and I left my classroom and office for another day.
My last stop was to say goodbye to the teachers and give the students a last hug. If you know me at all, you know how easy it is for me to cry. This day was no exception (and I don’t think the Chinese are used to seeing someone cry). The teachers had not been told and so they were shocked and sad. My friend, Flower, was actually mad at me because she thought I had known about it and not told her (you can see in the picture below, she’s the one in the blue jacket).
Laura's last goodbyes in Yanjiao.
This picture is a painful blow to my vanity. You can tell it’s a somber picture because nobody is holding up two fingers which is the standard for pictures here.
Aside: I didn’t bring any sweaters to China because I figured I’d at least be able to find a sweater my size. But it’s been hard to find sweaters because I’m noticing that for winter, people wear their coats all day indoors and out. It’s usually a coat with great style and they often have a weekday coat and a fancier weekend coat.
In the week since, I’ve returned to Yanjiao to get the last of my things out of the beautiful apartment (and get another shower). Vivian had to move out by the end of the week. She is now in the teacher’s dormitory. I’ve been elevated to Director of the Beijing preschool (with lots of guidance and translating help from Nili) and even given business cards (my first, although I’m not convinced I need them but I’ve read that business cards are a big thing in China). I still have things at the Yanjiao school, but I’ve been given permission to return once a week to teach the students and do teacher training. The teachers are quite joyful that they will finally get to learn how to play poker.