Zaijian, Shenzhen.

I wanted to have time to write in those last few days before leaving Shenzhen, but as usual, the end of the year is crazy and the time slipped away from me. Leaving Shenzhen and relocating has been harder than anticipated, the emotional and physical difficulty of moving has taken its toll on all of us. But our final weeks in Shenzhen were full of wonderful food, people and events, which made it all the more difficult to leave.

The month of May ended on an uneventful note, but there were a few things that made it special. The soccer girls hosted a bachelorette dinner for Amanda, who is getting married this summer, and it was fun to meet up with them. It was the same day as a party for all the admin in QSI Shenzhen, and so I party hopped. Had dinner at the admin party and then went to chill with the girls in Seaworld. I’m so excited for Amanda and her next steps, she’s moving to Guangzhou this summer, and I bet will start a family soon.

The next day, Donnie left on a trip to our new home of Pristina. I didn’t get to talk to him much, but he sent a ton of pictures. He got so much done too, he confirmed our housing, bought a car, and a bunch of work stuff that I don’t have much details on. He seemed to really like it, which makes me excited for what’s to come!

While he was away, I attended our last SZ Homebrewers meeting. We haven’t brewed since we sold our stuff in March, so we haven’t really been actively attending meetings either. It was sad that Donnie missed the last one, but I think I repped well. There were some new members who didn’t know who I was, which was a little sad, but also how that club works. Out with the old, in with the new. I will miss the camaraderie we had with those guys, participating in the yearly beer festival, and the passion about making their own (sometimes awful) beer. They are a solid group of people, and I know we’ll always be able to meet up with them if we cross paths in the future.

That week was also Paul’s final concert at school and prom! Donnie was out of town, so I went and watched Paul’s performance with Amy. It was cute, and made me a little nostalgic about all his past Shenzhen performances. His first few were trainwrecks because he’d start sobbing everytime he saw me in the audience. But after that, his confidence grew and now he’s a seasoned performer. πŸ™‚ Donnie got home that Friday, but I had plans Saturday for chaperoning prom for the second time. This year was more fun because the students were less prone to troublemaking and they had planned an evening of a sit down dinner and games (very unlike US proms). I had fun watching them make memories, squashed some boy drama, and was exhausted by the time 11pm rolled around. It was a great time, but still work, and I was ready for sleep.

The next week was a blur. It rained soooo much, and that made getting to and from work a pain on my bicycle! I was busy with work and managing our move, and also a fun going away party with the soccer girls. They arranged for one last game, but unfortunately because of the rain, we ended up just getting together for dinner to say goodbye. I’m not the only soccer player departing in the group, my good friend Chappy and Amanda are leaving as well. Chappy was leaving first, then me, and Amanda will be there through the summer. At the dinner, they gifted Chappy and I signed soccer balls. I feel truly lucky to have been a part of this group for 4 years. I am also thankful I was never seriously injured. πŸ˜‰ Till we play again, ladies.

Finally Friday arrived and it was graduation day! It was bittersweet to watch this group graduate. I had worked with them so closely over the past year, as their teacher and IB coordinator. It was pretty rewarding to see some faces up there of students we really had to push to graduation. They all made it though! I will miss my Psych class especially. They were a special group who were always willing to learn and supportive of each other. Several of them are going on to university as Psych majors, which makes me smile.

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The next day, our friend Billy hosted a good bye party for us at Taps. We’d been trying to go there more often to use up our loyalty card, but it was tough to use it that night. So many people came to hang out and buy us beers and reminisce about our time in Shenzhen. Brewers, soccer girls, and work people all mingled together for the evening and it was truly special and I will miss all of them. We called it a night early-ish in order to have a productive Sunday, which it was, finishing packing up our stuff to be moved out of our apartment.

 

We also made time to go meet up with Donnie’s work assistant Wei-Wei. She had invited us to hot-pot for a farewell lunch with her and her husband. There was a little bit of drama as we arrived, I accidentally opened my door without looking and squished the finger of a scooter rider in the street. He was very angry and wanted money, but there was no visible injury. So we exited the car and walked away, unfortunately, the wrong way. The taxi driver and scooter man sat on the corner of the street while the police arrived for like 30 minutes. I was too anxious to walk back through the nonsense to get to the restaurant (which was just behind it) and so lunch was delayed. At that moment, I was very grateful we were leaving China. Argh. But lunch was lovely, the food and company was fantastic. I will miss Wei-Wei, her personality is so sweet and funny and I know Donnie will miss her hard work and support of him. We walked home after, to avoid any other ridiculousness.

The next week was the last week of school, and thankfully things were wrapping up at work. I was trying to transfer the last of my knowledge over to Zack to take over everything and finish up last minute grades for students. I left work early on Monday to oversee the moving of our stuff. TJ, the brewer friend who bought all our brewing equipment, also purchased all our furniture, so he sent his assistant with movers to get it. It was a relatively painless process and we were done before Donnie came home, so we decided to use up the rest of our Taps card and escape our empty apartment.

We slept on the floor the next few days and tried to slowly whittle down the things that were left. We packed bags and ate out the next few days, and even went to our last quiz as Los Dos Duos. It was all so sad and exciting at the same time. Finally the last day of school arrived, and we said goodbye to the students, some even crying as they hugged me. I could feel tears swelling, but I knew if I started I wouldn’t stop, and this was true for the farewell party that we attend every year on the last day. They’ve moved away from speeches the last few years, and now do videos. Honey and Callie contributed to mine, and all the Chinese staff said good bye Donnie in his. It was very moving. I know he’s made an impression on so many people here.

We left school and walked straight to the Hilton, where we’d be staying for the remaining time in China. They hooked us up with a really nice suite as usual, and we went to happy hour for dinner in the lounge. Paul met up with us, and we watched a little world cup before heading to bed.

The next morning, Paul and I headed to school for our final checkout. There wasn’t a whole lot left for me to do, so around 10am we rode the bus back over to Donnie’s school where he was still working. Callie was done around the same time I was, so I left Paul with Donnie for an hour and we went to coffee at Starbuck in Seaworld. I can’t believe I won’t have Callie next year! I have loved having her in my city and at my school, and I will miss being able to meet up with her for coffee or brunch whenever I want to. I know it’s not goodbye with her, because we will see each other sometime down the line, but it’s hard to know we won’t be in each other’s daily lives anymore.

When I got back, Donnie was done with work for the day, so we went back to our apartment to finish packing and move out. It took some time, and a couple of trips to the Hilton with our stuff, but we were finally done. Amy told us she would work to clear out the remaining stuff and clean up. Finally, we headed to the pool! The rain had finally subsided and it was a perfect way to start the summer.

It was our last Saturday night in Shenzhen, so I dragged Paul and Donnie out after the first soccer game of the night. We went to Bionic to have some snacks and beer. Ironically, neither of us drank Bionic that night, we had Hoss’s Peko brews. It was great to be out, even if it was a short lived trip. We had some food, chatted and said goodbye to Hoss and Cody, soaked up the atmosphere of Baishizhou one last time and then headed home for some much needed sleep.

That Sunday was Father’s Day, and despite my attempts at making it a special day, we all were in bad moods. I think the impending move had us all stressed out. We had breakfast, went to the pool and tried to go out for hot pot again, but Paul fell asleep for most of the afternoon. We did have plans that night to go out and watch the Mexico-Germany match, so Amy agreed to come over a little early to watch Paul, and Donnie and I had a mini-date at the lounge before heading out to watch the matches for the night. It was so fun! My friend Laura (who’s Mexican), reserved a table at the local Mexican restaurant and so we joined her and her friends. What a game! Mexico won and we walked on air all the way home, it was such a blast.

On Monday, we were slow to get up, but Donnie had to head to work that morning and Paul and I had errands to run. First we met up with Honey at Starbucks to get some drinks before heading to one last pedicure appointment in China. Donnie wasn’t too busy at work, so he ended up joining us. It has been so wonderful to keep up with Honey over these past 5 years by going to get our toes done. We’ve made time to meet up at least once a month, and it’s always been so fun to catch up with all of life’s goings on. I will really miss her trusted insight. After toes, we said goodbye to Honey, Donnie went back to work and Paul and I went to go buy ferry tickets. After that was done, we decided to go have an early dinner at the same hot pot restaurant that Wei-Wei had taken us to. So we jumped in a cab and headed over there. It was just as good as the last time and we ate so much food, and then finished up with dessert in the lounge when we got back to the hotel. We had a pretty mellow evening, with more soccer and relaxing before our final day in China.

Tuesday was our last full day in China, and it was a busy one! I got up early for one last run on the bay before a big hotel breakfast. Paul and I bummed around the hotel until it was time to meet up with Donnie for our farewell lunch with his Chinese friends from work. They have treated us all so well and this was no exception. We ate a restaurant I’d ridden past for years, but never tried. It was so good! We had a big pot of shared fish, some Peking Duck wraps (like Mushu, but they’re not called that in China), and lots of delicious vegetables. It’s funny to be trying new things the day before you leave, but it was a perfect send off. It started pouring down rain right as we left, so we hung out at school saying goodbye for a little while longer. I will really miss these wonderful, generous people.

 

We headed back to the hotel and Donnie was officially done with work (which lasted like a day). We made the impromptu decision to head to Coyote’s to watch one of the soccer games, and we invited Amy to join us for our last night in China. She stayed for a bit with us at the table, but eventually her and Paul went to go have fun playing and goofing off in Seaworld. She sent us videos of their adventures. I was glad that Paul had that extra time with her, because I knew he was going to have a hard time saying goodbye. The game ended around 10pm and we met up with Amy and Paul and walked back to the hotel. We had to go straight to bed because it was going to be an early travel day for us, departing the hotel at 5:15am. We did make one quick pitstop to take pictures in the I heart SK sign. πŸ™‚

The morning came too soon, as it always does, and we begrudgingly got out of bed around 4:25am. Chao had offered to take us to the ferry terminal, so he arrived at 5:15am and we took two trips to load all our luggage over to the ferry. Amy met up with us as well. It was a pain in the butt hauling all our stuff from the street to inside, but with the help of Chao and Amy we got it to the check in desk. We had a few spare moments waiting in line for customs to hug and say good bye to Amy. She has really made a difference in all our lives, but especially Paul. It was really hard to watch them saying goodbye. Like a mother parting from her child, and it broke my heart. I hope we will meet up with her sometime soon, maybe for her wedding! I know we will stay in touch.

China threw us one last curve ball, taking our passports and taking extra long to check them. We had to run to the ferry, but luckily all was well. We had time at the airport to get snacks, change our money from RMB to dollars and chat with friends at the gate.

Our adventure in China is officially over (for now), and I will be forever grateful for our time spent there. Paul has grown so much during these 5 years (we all have!), and I hope he remembers how much he is still loved by the people of Shenzhen. For the friends we are leaving, I hope this is not goodbye forever, but a see you later in life. Shenzhen is an amazing city, the city of dreams. I really couldn’t have asked for a better start to our international lives than this. On to the great unknown!

But first, SUMMER!

Much love, J

 

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