I have more to post from the China adventure, but I’ve been a bit low since my return and I’m just starting to feel calm enough to admit it. I can’t quite place my finger on what went wrong to throw me headlong into such a low mood, but I can guess at a few things. There’s always a letdown after something, like a huge trip to a foreign land, that you’ve been anticipating for a long time. I had the same reaction after coming back from Australia (the first time), and I was similarly quiet on the blog and relatively quiet overall in terms of distributing the photographs and stories from the trip. So that’s one thing.
But I suspect more than just post-trip anticipation let-down in this case. China was an awesome 12 days spent with my sister. My sister who is repatriating from China back to America this summer. My sister who is moving to Baltimore, part of the greater Washington DC region that I consider a second home (second to Minneapolis) in America. My sister who will be looking for an apartment and buying a car and lots of new fun furniture at Ikea and the like. And I think deep down I’m just really jealous. That sounds like fun. Fresh starts, new beginnings, new jobs, new homes. And all of it in America. Hmmm.
I’ve always joked that this feeling is part of the reason that people have children. They get past the whole high school-college-wedding stage and realize that life in your thirties is actually pretty dull compared with what you’ve experienced so far, you work at a job with nothing to look forward to the way you had anticipated high school or college graduation or the pomp and circumstance of a wedding. Babies come with the chance for more parties (in the form of baby showers and then child-centered birthdays and holidays for years). And provide a necessary distraction when your life otherwise becomes just about a job.
I’m also now about the last one standing of my friends not to have kids or kids on the way. We’re all 35ish now and I’m sure you know what that means: dire warnings about what will happen if we do not procreate quickly. I plan to stay standing in this little club of one with no kids of my own. But it does mean I need to come up with something else to anticipate now that the China trip is over. My next big trip plan is Egypt in early 2011, so that’s something to start thinking about. I’ll go places in the meantime, of course, to the continent for work and to America for work and for the beach.
Of course, in phrasing my thoughts in this manner, I’m neglecting to mention the fact that it’s probably not just the anticipation of big change and new things that’s making me melancholy when I consider my sister’s big move this summer. Being an immigrant during a British election focused on keeping ‘British jobs for British workers‘ has been interesting. Looking ahead to my own 35th birthday has made me think a bit about planning for the future. It’s easy to not worry too much about saving for retirement when you’re 25 or 30, but as you start to head towards 40, it becomes harder to ignore this particular elephant in the room. And at some point I’m going to realistically have to decide that I want to be here in England indefinitely, or that I need to get back to the US and start paying into Social Security (probably less importantly) and 401(k) accounts (probably more importantly). Thinking about my sister’s repatriation has me in a big pile of melancholy as I try to think about the future and where I should put down roots. Because there’s no question, in my current circumstances–in a work-owned flat in England with no closets and no shower, still formally on ‘probation’ for my job and with the expiration of my work visa looming, along with the need to apply for ‘permanent’ residency–I’m feeling pretty discombobulated and unpermanent. And unsettled. So I’m in a funk.