That was 2 years ago. I still love talking to people on the move. I think it's an interesting time for China, at least from my own perspective having heard the stories about leaving so many times over. After people leaving China for so many years, there were people coming to teach English (and sometimes staying!). I wanted to know why. There are people on the move within China too, more than I realized at first and I always find it interesting to ask if people I run into in Zhuzhou are really from here. Sometimes they come from nearby small towns like Baiguan or from as far away as Hotan. They probably find it a strange question to ask. There are so many reasons for someone to leave home.
Lately, I've felt that dissatisfied feeling off and on again. I feel lonely, but I remind myself that I bring it on myself by not going out to bars and socializing like I probably should (I tried going to one in this city a few times, but for some reason I just stare inside and freeze up, trying to figure out if it's wrong for me to just order a beer and be alone or if people will see a sad drunk or if I order food will that be weird or what if what if what if what it and irrational anxieties begin to stack up which is weird given that I've been in bars by myself before, maybe it's the accumulated experiences of my insides not quite matching my outsides, racial blot test that I am). I'm not sure what I'm accomplishing since I don't seem to be traveling that much. I'm doubting myself again. Asking myself if I've done everything I can. Remembering that this next year, I can do better.
It may just be the moment, it may pass like when I spent my summer back in California talking about how crazy China was then I came back to China and remembered what I loved about being here. I'm certainly ready to take a break and have been making a mental list of places I'd like to finally make a road trip to. I'm also looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces, though they too have their lives and responsibilities to look after. Maybe after the first year being so positive and the second year being so difficult, the third year will be a chance to move at a more even keel.
On a happier note, as of the past two weeks I've been filling up a notebook with all kinds of things. I'm writing again! It's like I'm waking up from some long sleep or something. I definitely feel how I'm out of practice, but the fact that I've been happy with some pen and paper for an hour (or more) everyday makes me feel that I'm really recovering something. Creating, not just feeling stuck with "this is nothing" everytime I say "today I will write". I think I have learned a valuable lesson in the limitations of language and words from that dry spell, it's not something I should forget, but I'm remembering the small power of reaching someone somewhere unexpectedly as well. I'm excited too, because when I'm having fun while writing everyone else seems to have fun reading and there's nothing that makes my day quite like thinking I've made someone laugh.
China still has a lot to explore and I have some questions I need to mull over over the next year, it's not been easy and I still have a lot of ways to grow. But undoubtedly there are some things I've handled better this year and so by next year I hope to have done even more. I'm sad to leave my comfortable place here near downtown, but it's because I'm comfortable that I should probably change things up. I'm looking forward a break from here even as I think about all the possibilities now available to me with more advanced English speakers (podcasts? student newspaper? book reports? skits? ballads?). Each in its time, I suppose.