“Dear Owner The epidemic strikes again. For the health of you and your family, you can go to the nucleic acid testing point for testing first to avoid the long waiting time for unified testing. The testing point near the community (the entrance of McDonald’s in Huanyufang); testing time: 9:00 am – 23 pm : 00, please wear sunscreen when the weather is hot”
It’s July 2022 and we are what 2 years and almost 5 months into the pandemic? For most of the world “Covid” or Sars-coV-2 is a thing of 2020. Mask mandates are gone, mandatory testings are no longer required, and international travel has resumed. I
n China, we are still receiving messages about mandatory testing when 1-2 cases pop up in a city. Sure, things look hopeful with the reduction in quarantine for international travelers, and the opening of more flights. But time sometimes feels completely frozen.
Sometimes it feels like I am on a whole other planet, watching the humans on earth go about their day, while the planet I am on continues to battle this evil invasive covid empire.
And it sucks sometimes. There is no eloquent way to say it. It sucks.
But even though is feels like we are at a standstill while the rest of the world moves on, I know that the grass isn’t greener on the other side.
Honestly, It’s hard to picture what life back home is like – because SO MUCH has changed and happened.
Countless Mass and School shootings
Reversal of Roe v. Wade
Expanded protection of gun ownership
I follow the news, the reports, my friends and family participating in these changes, but it’s still so hard to fully connect because I am not there. Sometimes I feel guilty, because I feel like I should be doing more, Standing up for change. But I also recognize that there really is only so much I can do living on this other planet, and I just stand back and watch.
In the rest of the world, despite the pandemic the world went on. People lived. People died. People fought. People lost. It’s hard to connect to that when life in China has felt frozen in time.
Without being able to visit loved ones, seeing an aging picture on Facebook or in a video call can be shocking. Because for us here, the only picture we have in our minds is how things were before we left.
Now before you start commenting and asking me “why don’t you leave? Why are you staying (insert any sort of racist/bias/bigotry comment I am sure someone will post)?
Would you just leave your job?
Your means and source of income?
How much savings do you have in your account?
Do you have people who can financially support you if you up and quit your job and had to move back home?
The truth is my career is here. My life is now here. It’s hard and easy to grieve for what I left behind, but the truth is what I left behind no longer exists. Time has passed.
Things have changed. And truth be told I am happier and more independent here than I ever was in the States.
Sure- it’s not perfect, but what is perfect?
Here I don’t have to worry about a gunman showing up to my school and me having to make the choice of which student I am going to save.
Here I have more access to affordable healthcare- health care I never received in the states because I just couldn’t afford it (even with insurance).
Here I can walk home from the bar after midnight by myself without having to look over my shoulder with my keys in my hands.
Here I am able to be financially free.
Before I came to China I was literally living with a negative monthly balance in my bank account. I was never able to catch up with my bills and just have enough in my account. And paying for student loans? You can forget that.
I never had enough.
That’s the reality for most of us millennials. It doesn’t matter what career sector you are in, unless you came from a family that had the means to pay for your education out of pocket and financially support you until you earned a high enough income- you are dead ass broke in America.
And I was one of those dead ass broke Americans.
I had a Master’s degree and you know teaching in Memphis – which comparatively pays ok, but it still wasn’t enough.
So why would I come back?
Even though it feels like China is stuck in time, time has moved forward. Things have changed. I have changed. All I can do is move forward. Keep going. No matter how hard it may be. No matter how isolated it can sometimes feel.
So I will stand in that line outside of McDonald’s, and let them swab my throat. I will laugh at the sometimes ridiculous sounding policies and messages that come across my phone.
And I will hold on to the hope that eventually I will return to see the people I care about. I don’t know when that will be. But it will happen. Eventually.