Moving Overseas, part 1 — Fear, panic, and only a glimmer of courage.
I was wide-eyed and excited. I had packed my entire life into 2 suitcases and a backpack. Notes from friends, picture frames, even a couple of left over Auburn football pompoms to remind me of home were stuffed away in those bags. The combined nervousness and excitement was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The memories now even feel like a faded dream from last night that I’m trying to describe to a friend over morning coffee.
My mom broke down in tears at the security checkpoint at the airport. I remember that vividly. My dad stood strong and silent. I laughed a little in that moment, but that was to keep me from sobbing too. The furthest I had ever lived from home was one summer in college when I went to North Carolina to fly fish and work at a pizza restaurant in a small mountain town.
Now I was moving to China. Indefinitely.
I boarded the plane and flew uneventfully to Beijing where I was greeted outside of baggage claim by a handful of American strangers. They were assigned to whisk me away to my hotel where I would stay for a few nights while going through a series of orientation sessions that were designed to make sure I could survive in my new host country.
I sat on my bed alone in a very unfamiliar place. I was hungry because my nerves and excitement and jetlag prevented me from eating much dinner. I sat there with only the dim light from the bedside table. The curtains were drawn. I sat and thought about how I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. I left a job that I loved. I owned a side business that was booming. I had the most amazing group of friends in the world. I gave it all up and now sat alone in a hotel room in a foreign country. Fear set in.
“Is it too late to pack it all up and go home?” I wondered out loud to myself. I ran scenarios of conversations in my head of how I would explain my sudden return home to all of my friends and family. They would understand. No one would judge me.
I laid my head on my pillow and closed my eyes in hopes that falling asleep would bring the light of a new day and, with it, a new spark of courage.