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Fun Dinner

Aiyun and I had dinner with friends Zach and Gillian last night. One of my administrators recommended a restaurant that's a favorite of hers and her husband. I was hoping for a Mexican meal, but the restaurant was more a French place. It was called Cin Cin, but recently changed it's name to Lananas. They specilize in crepes. Yes, Zach Ober is quite the character. The picture of him here tells the story. He and Gillian are two of my favorites here in a China.

As Aiyun and I are trying to navigate a future together we've sought out advice from others that have been down a similar path. Zach and Gillian were married here in China years ago and have also lived in Ohio for a spell. They are much younger than us and not so close to retirement age like we are. Finishing up year 31 of a teaching career I've been trying to investigate the possibilities. Combine that with a new relationship that has serious staying power and there are a lot of questions to be considered. Visas? Permanent resident Visa? Green cards? Would it be possible for us to make a home together here in China? Where do we want to get old together? What's her ring size? So many questions with very few answers so far. Here's what we do know...

Aiyun will be coming to America to visit in middle July for three weeks. We're going to have a bit of a crowded house, but we'll manage. We've (Moira, Kaleb, and I) made the decision that it will be best for them to stay in my home until Kaleb finishes school early next year. He's doing very well in his electrical program earning the best grades of his life. It's cool to see him enjoying learning and finding value in an education. They were contemplating staying with Kaleb's parents after I returned home this summer, but we all agreed that's not for the best for a few reasons. My house has more space and Kaleb's dad is struggling with some health related issues. It's going to be a challenge, but I think if we communicate well and respect each other's boundaries we'll be fine.

When Aiyun arrives this summer I'm going to arrange a meeting with an immigration lawyer to get some advice. The process of getting a permanent living status green card can take a long time. It took Gillian nearly a full year. There are a few ways to go about it, but we will learn and be flexible keeping our eye on the long term prize, a life together. We are not going to be able to see each other for a while. At the moment I'm planning on a return to China for a visit during the Christmas holiday in December. After that, we're not sure, but we both agree that we want to be together and we're in it for the long haul. I guess I do have some answers. Ring size is 15.

Where to live long term? Something my buddy Steve has mentioned a lot to me about retirement is that proximity to the people you care about is most important. I don't think I would want to retire and live somewhere for a better climate if that meant I wouldn't see my grandson very often. If I didn't get to golf with Steve and Brian I would struggle. Same for going to the races and playing cribbage with Tony and Mike. Also, golf is a big deal. A life in China would have some real perks, but the lack of affordable golf would be a giant negative. Perks you ask? Cost of living is way less here. Food, travel, health care, housing. All of it. Get this, Zach and Gillian just bought a new car. A beautiful BYD hybrid SUV. $20,000 USD. The same car in the states would be more than double. If the states opened up to Chinese car imports the rest of the world automakers would be in serious trouble.

Mom update: Spoke to her on the phone the past couple of days. She's ready to move to a new home, but I'm glad to say she's been content and peaceful while staying in the hospital. When I remind her that she gets to see her sisters on Tuesday she doesn't seem to remember the plan. I'm afraid to ask her if she remembers anything from one day to the next as I don't want to raise her anxiety level when she realizes she's losing her memory functions. Her nurse says she's starting to spend more time fixating on the baby doll that they let her care for. Only two more days and then the move to Tacoma. I'm prepared for this to go poorly, but hopeful for the best. My buddy Mike will be driving her and her sister Wendy will be there to welcome her. My hope is that's the difference that will make her feel welcome and at home. No expectations, only my attention and readiness to do what's necessary. The Dalia Lama teaches the source of all misery is expectation. A good reminder to live in the moment. And I will bend like a reed against the raging storm.

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