I won't be here in Hangzhou next year. My contract was for two years. I've had to start telling some friends and colleagues that I won't be signing a new contract to stay. It's been tough to do. I'm going to miss this school. I'm going to miss my math department. I'm going to miss the new friendships that I've cultivated. International schools have to interview and fill positions a year ahead of time, so this process of declaring your intentions for the next school year has to happen now.
Explaining why I'm headed back is making me rethink my priorities. The reality is I don't have a choice because of my mom's declining memory function. I can't ask Moira to be her lone family connection. I made the decision to have her move into an assisted living facility in Bellingham. She would have much rather been closer to her sisters in Tacoma, but at the time that didn't seem realistic. I'm needed there. I have to go back.
So? Would I choose to go back or stay here if not for my mom? Man, that's tough. I really miss being close to Moira and Arthur. I really miss my closest friends. Being home for five weeks and seeing them all was great, but it's making me wonder if visiting once a year is enough. That's a stretch. Not reading to Arthur more often? Not golfing with Steve and Brian? Not playing cribbage with Durk? Not going to the races with Tony? Dang.
I'm loving teaching here in Hangzhou. Seriously, I loved my time at Meridian, but this is pretty much a slam dunk. Wealthy students that work hard? Ummm. Yeah. I can learn to live with that. No gang members? No drugs? Super involved parents? Class sizes that max out at 20? I would miss my teacher friends quite a bit back at Meridian. I would miss my math department guys, but dang. Teaching math to students that largely want to be in class is a different world.
And then there is Aiyun. We've talked about all this. She knows I'm headed back to the states. We've got a year to see where this relationship goes. So far, so great. We plan to spend time together when we can. I'll be headed to Shanghai next weekend to meet her mother. Feels like a significant step.