It’s moving day.
I arrived in China many moons ago with two suitcases and I’m leaving with, shall we say, considerably more. I’m fine with that. Most of my belongings points to a life lived. How about this jewel from 1995 when McDonalds were in Beijing but not Chengdu (where I lived) — my teammate and I each had a pair and boy did we get mileage out of them!
This morning the amazing crew from Links Moving arrived and I cannot recommend them highly enough. As I filled out all of the customs paperwork and points of entry and all the details, I was so grateful that they know what they’re doing and won’t have to deal with ports or customs.
The truth is much will be left here for others to make their own lives with. But a few pieces of furniture (and boxes of books, old letters, and other a sundries) will travel on a slow boat from China.
I lived for five years in housing that was provided by the school I taught at. This was also the 90’s when things simply were not available to buy. So, when I moved from Chengdu to Beijing the only furniture I moved were two bamboo stools and a set of stacking plastic drawers. Arriving in Beijing I had to furnish my own apartment and I wrote about the ABSOLUTE joy of being given The. Most. Perfect. Amy. Couch. Ever. In what turned out to be a trilogy: What a couch can mean, What happens when answered prayer becomes old wineskins, and In which it’s easy to miss the Answerer clinging to the answer.
For some reason, furniture has taken on a sacred role in my journey. It’s not a mere couch, it’s a beloved, prayed for, longed for, grieved over piece of holy ground. At first I thought I could walk away from everything in my apartment and had the attitude I came in with two suitcases and I’ll go out with two, hot damn!
But as you can tell, that response is riddled with pride and too much about me and not enough about the broader, better, story than size of my luggage is. Sometimes less is more. And sometimes it’s just pride.
This is the first piece of furniture I bought after moving to Beijing.
It’s more than a lovely chest (though I still chuckle at the note my mom sent me about “enjoying my lovely chest.” Oh I do Mom, I do!). This is a stake in the ground. This is a border stone. This is a gambling move that says, “I’m all in.” Up until then, sure I’d killed mice, made friends, taught students, learned about China, learned about myself, seen God through China, put many miles on my bike, nearly died and learned to LOVE numbing spicy food, but as long as I traveled light, it was easier to keep an eye on the exit. Sure, I’m here, but I can be out of here pretty easily.
This chest, this chest was a game changer. And by choosing to haul it back to I’m making another statement. Yeah, I came in with two suitcases, but I simply cannot go out through that exit. I’m changed. I’m marked in the best way by China (and in the most annoying way to Americans. Hehehe, sorry in advance if I ask you how much everything in your home costs. It’s not that I’m noisy; you own it, I know you paid for it, just tell me already, OK?!)
And just like that, I was committed in ways I hadn’t been before. And I knew it. And I owned the commitment by turning into it, not away from it, and buying a few more pieces of furniture.
When did you know you were committed to something or someone?