Here we are, now, at the 11th hour of the 12th month. Today, I’ve been to the gym, done a bit of grocery shopping, sent some virtual notes around to say “happy” and whatnot, done some other bits of house keeping, decided what my last meal of the year will be, and sat down to review. I do it every year–I like to review my year. The highs. The lows. The things I would change if I could. I’m sure you do it, too. Or maybe not. Maybe you just get yourself a nice dress and head out for a good time. Or maybe you’re in charge of making the reservations…Oh yeah, and I made a resolution. Last year my resolution was a damned hard one. And I failed. Like many people’s, mine didn’t last past April. This year I decided that since just the everydayness of my life is a blasted difficult challenge and will be for 3/4 of 2013 that my New Year’s Resolution will be much easier than last year, much more fun to achieve, yet still an accomplishment. (I really should think this way more often). I hereby resolve that in 2013 the year of our Lord I will achieve–at least once but hopefully the ability to repeat at will–one unassisted handstand. There, I typed that out loud for all 387 of you followers to read. Accountability being de rigueur and so forth.
Well, as I am so often found to do, I digress. I sat down to think about and to share how I got here. Of course I realize that the early days of this blog I made that announcement. That grand proclamation that I, in fact, had made the decision to take a one year sabbatical against almost every-living-soul-I-know’s advice. But it appears that I haven’t told you about the day I left. Let’s go back to the beginning.
August 28th, 2012. I have no idea if I slept the night before I left. Actually, I’m pretty sure I didn’t. Either memory or my creative reconstruction has me in bed in that half-asleep half-awake state throughout night. That specific alpha wave that while you are dreaming you are also aware that even your two cats aren’t making the noises of sleep. That heavy hypnotic breathing which belongs only to the world of those asleep. I could be making this up, but I’m thinking not. Dot and Lou knew I was leaving. We’ll just stick with that, if you will. (Stay with me). Five minutes before my alarm was set to ring, I woke up and turned it off. I had coffee, showered, and got ready to leave. I know this not from memory but from the fact that the morning is a ritual from which I rarely deviate.
I remember nothing of the drive to the airport other than I did not drive. There was no unforeseen traffic incidents. It was wholly uneventful. And I was numb. I don’t like goodbyes. I hate airport scenes. So, I instructed my best friend in the universe to drop me off at the departures curb and leave me there. She complied.
This is where the story makes a left turn. It’s taken me 4 months to figure out the why of it all. And who’s to say that I have. But I’m definitely able to tell you this without it weirding me out. I got up to the bag check station and heaved my luggage onto the scales. Bad news. I’m 50 lbs. over the weight limit. “Fine,” I told the airlines employee, “I’ll pay the over limit fee.” I was thinking back to my last business trip to NYC and how our employer not only bored us to tears in a miserably cramped up room for 4 days but also loaded us down with a huge binder that threw my bag over the weight limit. The fee, then, was $50 (which I did not pay. I immediately opened my luggage and threw away the whole meeting binder–lock, stock, and barrel). “$600,” said the mouth on the airline employee. I just knew her mouth had gone rogue. There was NO WAY the airline employee’s brain and her rubbery-hole-talker were coordinated. “Pardon? Pardon me, how much?” ”$600,” she replied and then she went on talking about forms of payment, I think, but I had already started my own internal conversation with myself about money. About the income difference between my ‘old life’ and my ‘new life for the next year’ and how I’d been so frugal to justify this whole crazy thing. And how I even tortured myself over ‘boots or camera?’ And…and…and…and. ”I’m moving to another country,” my stupid and feeble talker said. It was half-hearted but I heard it. Then the talking thing on her face said more noises and then she pointed. I looked in the direction of her point and there was a big scale. ”50 lbs.,” she said. ”Off load 50 lbs.”
I don’t know how many paces were between the talking thing and the scales. But halfway there I had already begun to recover. ”It’s ok! I’m going to China!” I told myself. ”This is where folks return covered in a bespoke wardrobe!” Easy. Dump some clothes and Bob’s your uncle. Well, well, well. This is where we can say ‘ya learn something new every day.’ I have bad news for all you dieters that feel like you have to weigh naked and without shoes. Etcetera. Forget it. Weigh with your clothes on. Shoes. All of it. Clothes don’t weigh shit. Pardon the vernacular but I really want you to understand my emphasis. There was just no headway made as I put all the clothes, and I mean all, that I could live without onto the scales. And that’s when the unthinkable began to be thunk. I saw them. The little crystal bottles with gold lids. The compacts–each one housing their own glass mirrors. Oils. Things that smell nice. Powders that sparkle. Glitter. Paint. Things that weigh a lot. Things that cost a lot. The things I am attached to. Things that define me. You see, I was born female but I evolved into a second gender. The type of girl who feels naked without the accoutrements des Haut Femmes. Don’t ask me why this was the moment the floor dropped out from under my feet. When I realized I was catapulting myself into a year of unknown…
And in Houston is where I left everything.
Bare. I left the airport aboard a big ass plane and flew to Beijing. When I landed no one was there. Nobody from Disney. Nobody holding a sign with my name on it. My phone didn’t work and I couldn’t figure out how to use a public phone (or if there even were any). Tired, confused, and jet lagged, I found the taxi stand and began the never ending process of trying to communicate around the Great Wall of Mandarin.
And here I sit thinking about all of this and all of you. Thinking about how scary, insane, and utterly wonderful this has been, so far. The cold, right now, is bitter. For this reason my big adventures will probably wane for a while. But there will be some. And then there will be many when the sun thaws Beijing.
Big giant love from China and Happy New Year!