How I ended up next to China…

Life has moved so incredibly fast in the past few months. Within a month and a half, I went from house-shopping in the States to receiving a visa to work in Taiwan. It all started one fateful summer evening during dinner with one of my best childhood friends:

Her: “Hey, the organization I’m working with in Taiwan is re-vamping their program this year and needs English teachers. Are you interested?”

Me: “No way!” (OBVIOUSLY… I was looking for a house, working full time and had just signed on for my fifth year as the girls’ basketball coach at my former high school)

Her: “OK…” (fill in the blanks with more great information about the program and life on this beautiful island next to China)

And then it clicked. This was exactly the answer to all the angst I couldn’t seem to shake. Angst that had hung around for a couple of years but seemed to intensify in 2015 and hadn’t let up since.

Of course I should go.

Two phone calls to my parents and a note to my realtor later, I submitted my application by the end of the week. I was told that if everything went to plan, I would leave at the end of August.

Then radio silence.

I was almost sure this was where life was going to take me, but with no word back from across the ocean I couldn’t tell many people. The season for business meetings ramped up in full force and soon I was traveling all over the place to some of my favorite destinations (like Boston!) For those of you that know my travel history, you know I write that with sarcasm.  Not that I don’t like Boston… it just never seemed to like me. In fact, Boston was the main inspiration for my “elysetravels” hashtag.  The icing on the cake. The straw that broke the camel’s back.  But I digress…

And then the silence broke. I was in Boca Raton for a meeting and got a message that I had been accepted, that the visa had gone through and that now I would leave at the end of September.

To put that timing into perspective, it was now the end of August. I was away from the office and per my calculations, I had to quit the day I got back. Great. I replayed that conversation over in my head and just couldn’t make it sound better than as bad as it was: “Oh the meetings went great, the buyers loved everything, annnnd… I’m resigning. Yes, that’s right, in the busiest, craziest time of year when it feels like we never have enough help…”

And that’s about exactly how it went. Have any of you seen the Pixar movie Inside Out with all the emotions? I’m pretty sure I saw each one flash across my director’s face. Apparently, the dreaded “hey can we grab an impromptu so we can talk” statement didn’t alert him that I was leaving and instead he got hit with it as soon as the words “I’m quitting” came out of my mouth.

In spite of it, though, he and everyone else at work were unbelievably supportive and leaving was truly bittersweet.

Then I had to tell my players that I wasn’t coming back to coach. That felt like breaking up with 21 people at the same time. I don’t recommend this to anyone, especially all in one weekend. BUT, they too were as sweet as could be (and I get weekly updates!)

To continue this lovely whirlwind timing, I received a call one morning that if I wanted to avoid paying rent for the month of September, I had to be out by noon the next day (which just also happened to be my last day of work). I left the office at 5 and started packing. A friend and I finished moving everything to my parents’ house around 1AM and if it weren’t for her help, I’d still be taping boxes instead of writing this blog post.

The next day was my last day. I had a happy hour, went home, and slept for a couple of hours only to wake up at 4AM and catch a flight to New Mexico and then Texas to say goodbye to my sisters. Then, I came back home and began packing for Taiwan.

And now I’m here and that was almost 3 months ago.  Like I said, time flies.

Saying goodbye was rough, but I can’t explain how natural it feels to be here.

When I was a little girl, I went through some (what to me at the time seemed to be) traumatic events. (OK, I moved ten minutes across town: D.E.V.A.S.T.A.T.I.N.G.) I was a mess. I’d left my best friend, my favorite tree in the front yard and everything that seemed like home to me. I was never going to fit in in my new neighborhood. So, at age 9, in my hour of childhood desperation, I started praying. Around that time, I got sick and had a dream that I was working in an orphanage in China… I remember missing my family and friends but I knew I was supposed to be there taking care of the orphans. So, that’s exactly what I set out to do! And that’s exactly what I began telling everyone I knew. This was my mission in life.

Well, it was my mission in life for a while, but eventually that dream faded and I learned to fit in and make friends and go to school and graduate college and get a big girl job in a corporate office. But in the last few years, I felt like there was something more I was supposed to be doing… I just couldn’t seem to figure out what it was.

The first day that I arrived here and heard and saw Asian children playing and laughing at my school, I had to pinch myself. Obviously, this isn’t China. And I have no idea if that will happen. But, it felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Life is hard. It’s lonely and dark and confusing. It’s easy to lose faith, lose your way, lose hope in life meaning anything more than the mundane tasks that consume every day. All of this describes me for the past 5 years… I get it. So, let me just encourage you: keep going. It does matter. YOU matter. Life isn’t perfect and easy now that I’m here, but it has given me hope that everything that happens is part of a bigger picture … even if I only ever get a glimpse of it once in a while.

2 thoughts on “How I ended up next to China…

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