I can honestly say, before moving, I had never once thought about what the weather was like in China, and upon arrival, I realized packing a heavy jacket was essential. Where I am currently living, about two hours east of Beijing, we have already started to realize that fall is near, and winter is not too far behind.
Despite being a 30 minute walk from my beloved coffee commune, I made the conscious decision that, despite any weather issues, I would continue to be faithful to the first place to truly welcome me with open arms (shout out, Summer Time Coffee). And in honor of this commitment, I decided it had been a few days since I last visited my community of three, and headed to town to grab a sweet treat. I was there for no more than twenty minutes when the owner of the coffee shop sat down with me (shout out, Ivy), and we talked about her family and her business. It was refreshing, and she was really eager to get to know me. Very kind soul. That is, until she dropped a bomb on me. The coffee shop, my beloved sanctuary, would be closing down for the winter in just a few weeks. I gasped. She informed me that, in fact, most places in this town would be closing soon for the winter. I was devastated.
I hiked home and started a self-strategic planning session for how I would acquire my fix of coffee, Snickers, and Dove chocolate over final six weeks I had left before moving back to Beijing. I would stock up, I ultimately decided – buy enough to bunker me down through the fall. Swimming through this particularly dreadful day, and attempting to eat no more than one Snickers bar at a time, I looked around the office for some sense of salvation. I then noticed a chair by a huge beautiful window and I thought, I’m going to sit by that huge beautiful window, and dammit, I’m going to be positive. And so, I sat.
And so, the chair broke out from underneath me.
Literally, out from underneath me, the chair legs collapsed and popped off the hinges of the seat. I just started sobbing. “What the hell am I doing here,” I said aloud, mid-tears. And so, there I was, sitting on the floor with tears in my eyes. It was quite pathetic, and especially as a proud almost-thirty year old. Aside from living in a tiny town which would soon be a ghost town, I had also recently come to the conclusion that the coffee shop gals were not really my friends, nor were Dove chocolate bars. Loneliness became my reality. I walked to the bathroom and splashed water on my face. “This is going to work, dammit,” I said to myself (and yes, I actually said this to myself, aloud).
That night, I wrote out a list of things I needed: personally and professionally. Just as my mentor advised me, I took a critical glance at what things I could control and just how I was going to advocate for myself and for my sanity (after all, most of this rested with me – again, transition is tough, and we can never truly prepare for what lies ahead when we follow unpredictable and risk-based opportunities – they don’t call it, “high risk/high reward,” for nothing).
I woke up that next morning to later greet my American counterpart, who is part-Hercules/part-gargantuan. The dude played college football. And in the first moments of catching up that night, I knew I had the tools to make things right. He affirmed and validated all of my feelings, and already started weaving together ways where we would stick together. Unity. A team. Human interaction. I was longing for this moment.
Just as my coffee shop sanctuary will soon be a good thing coming to an end, I’m confident my month-one lull will, too, depart. And this, my friends, is a wave I’m excited to ride. New perspective, new encouragement, and new reflection – hope you’re engaging these same realities as your “good” and “bad” things come to fruition. The only way upward is onward.