Well, yes, I'm a bit overdue on my blog post, but I'm not really talking about temporal matters here. I can't even remember back to when I last posted; the last few days have been so full and busy that I thought they might never end. However, now I'm sitting in Sky Harbor ("the friendliest airport in the country"), our SIX bags are checked (more in a moment), and we're waiting for our flight to LA, where we will connect with our flight to Shanghai. This is it!
On the house front, the renters decided to stick with the original three-bedroom plan (oh thank heaven!), so we stuffed the entire studio with our personal belongings, at least those that didn't end up in luggage or the Salvation Army, where the staff now recognizes us by sight. We found a second twin bed on Craigslist and outfitted everything with new quilts. Dan tracked us down at our last La Fonda Friday night dinner and got the keys, so the house is no longer our own. The rental idea had one unexpected consequence learned in our Tuesday meeting with Gerry the CPA; if we rent our home, we are not allowed to spend more than 14 days per year in the house. The more alarming statistic was about exclusion of our Chinese income, however. If we don't want to pay US taxes, we have to be out of the country for 330 days, which means we can't come home until July 7th. That was a pretty big shock, considering that our teaching year ends on June 17th, but we did take some comfort when we realized that Canada is NOT part of the US, so we can at least come back to the North American continent. We're working on a big family trip so everyone can see us sooner (my brother-in-law wanted to know if the dogs should come as well). It makes me feel slightly like some kind of weird draft dodger.
The luggage was packed, re-packed, and packed once more, and we were still overweight on all four checked bags, so Joe called both airlines (Southwest and Korean Air) and found out that we'd be better off paying for two extra bags. Jill and Rhonda were conscripted into baggage transport, having made the mistake of offering to drive us to the airport. The Southwest guy could not have been nicer, although I think he was a little surprised at so many bags for just two people. Family farewells were hard, but Joe's family was kind enough to gather together for one final Skype, and we managed to break up most of the goodbyes to my family over the last two days. My mom had knee replacement surgery yesterday at the same hospital where my father had his open heart surgery, and it was very hard to say goodbye to her while she was sitting in a hospital bed, but she is quite the good soldier and wished us her very best, while amusing us with her morphine-induced conversation. That is one fun drug to observe!
Little things from this week: we had a great lunch with my former accounting professors, the Pitts, and their son Brenden, who taught for two years in Japan. Ron has also recently traveled to China, so we got many good tips, and the food was fantastic (Kay is a good Oklahoma cook). We transferred title for the Corolla to Aaron, who has already washed and waxed the car, tinted the windows and fixed just about everything that was wrong. He loves that car more than I ever did, so I'm glad it's in his hands. Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, claims in a blog post that he has a FB network in China, but he didn't mention how I could connect to that network. Very helpful, Mark. Finally, a piece of advice: when you need to cry, find a nice public place. We had our last dinner with Faun and Randy and Mira and Bruce on Saturday night at Horsemen's Lodge, a great Flagstaff steakhouse. Joe needed to do some shopping at the mall (very unusual for him), and I finally got to tired to walk around, so I took a seat outside Dillard's and did some people watching. At some point I realized I wouldn't be near Faunie again for a good long time, and I just started to cry. Although there were lots of people all around me, nobody came over to try to help me or ask what was wrong; they just let me get it all out. It was terrific, and I'm going to remember that probably quite a bit in the next few days/weeks/months.
I hope to post again very soon, but have some patience. Next post, Shanghai!