But can one ever be ready for such a big thing?
Five months. There is so much to do. It still doesn’t seem real. I’m so preoccupied with all the things I need to do to get ready. It hasn’t hit me that I’m really leaving. People all around me are getting sad to see me go, but my mind hasn’t begun to process it.
My mind is still hung up on buying the right crate for Abby, finding a good airline for her to travel on, handling all the paper work required to import a dog into Sri Lanka,
and of course how I’m going to pay for it all.
My mind still races around about how I’m going to move, sell, or give away ten years worth of stuff in my apartment: what should I ship, what should I bring on the plane with me, what should I sell, and what’s not worth selling. It’s a different experience when both of your parents are gone. You can’t just throw a bunch of stuff in their basement and think about it later. In fact, a lot of the stuff I have is my mother’s and I have to decide if it’s the kind of stuff I want to keep. I get 4.5 cubic meters of shipping provided by my school. That’s actually good chunk of space, so I can bring things like that old love seat that’s been in my family since before I can remember, or the dresser that was bought for me when I was born. But other than those items: the rest is just stuff. It’s a matter of whittling it down.
I can get rid of some stuff right now, but it’s a little too soon for most of it. I have to focus on all the other matters, like my visa requirements: the doctor visits for medical clearance; the police clearance, which is a whole story; finding my birth certificate; and getting ahold of all my diplomas and educational certificates.
There isn’t any time left to think about the fact that I’m actually leaving. And I don’t think I’m just leaving for the two-year contract, either. I’m already thinking much bigger. If I like Sri Lanka, I’ll stay for an extra two years and collect that $5000 bonus they give for doing just that. If I really like it, I’ll probably stay for six years, to be honest. And then after that: who knows! Maybe Africa. Maybe somewhere else in Asia. Maybe I’ll find a job in Argentina. The point is: this job in Sri Lanka is like a slingshot. It’s shooting me out into the wide world of international teaching. I’m absolutely thrilled about it. For the first time since I started teaching, I can really see myself doing this for the next 30 years. I love teaching. But for some reason, I couldn’t see myself doing it day in, day out, for even 10 more years. But now that I’ll be doing it abroad, I feel like it’s clicking. I feel like this is what I’m meant to do.
I’ve lived here in San Francisco for almost 10 years. That’s the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place. It was absolutely amazing to be here for so long. I made some great friends here. I connected with my brother and his family in a way that I never would have if I had lived far away. It is hard to leave all this. Maybe that’s why I haven’t really been processing it too much: it’s really hard to say goodbye to all this, and maybe I’m still working out just how to do that.