Here we are two months and over 40 unpacked boxes later, settling in to our new home in Georgia. This is the first time in my moving career (lol) that I have not had every box unpacked and the whole house in order within 2-3 days. Is it my age? I am almost (*dread*) 40, so I would think I still had some get-up-and-go but I really think it has got-up-and-gone because I don’t feel that need to keep moving every waking minute like I used to. Perhaps my OCD tendencies have relaxed much more than I thought. The long assignment overseas was better than any medication might have been—I can’t even imagine how Howie Mandel would have reacted to the conditions I faced every day. He and I share many of the same hang-ups. But I had to learn to face my fears or choose to hide away for almost five years. These days I can even touch a shopping cart with my bare hands and only feel slightly nauseated. I still don’t want to open public doors without using my shirt or scarf but hey—there is swine flu out there stalking me! Good thing I still have operational hips because reaching that flush handle with my foot in public bathrooms can get tricky.
Anyway, moving on…
Unpacking all of our things and sorting through keep/donate/garage sale items has brought up many memories. I found the box of blocks that Xiao Gou used to sit at our table and play with so intently. She doodled all over the wooden container and her tiny scribbling always makes me sad. I also found her blanket and the sweet, pink dress she liked to wear while she was at our home for visits. I never let her take it with her back to the orphanage because I knew it would disappear forever. I used to get so upset about things I gave her being taken away, especially the clothes. She loved clothes and hated it so much the way they dressed her so poorly. At my home her favorite activity was a bath and then the ‘girl stuff’ that goes with it; doing her hair, moisturizing with lotion, etc… such an easy way to make her smile. I’ll never forget when I brought a few bags of new clothes to her sleeping room and the ayi’s face when she discovered that all of the pants had been professionally altered to accommodate Xiao Gou’s amputated leg. She knew no one but Xiao Gou would benefit from the cute pants and warm thermal underwear. Xiao Gou knew it, too. She was smart and quickly figured out that no one would be taking those items. You may not know but when you have a missing limb it makes it even harder to dress in layers. She used to have a heck of a time tucking her long underwear into her pants and then the extra pants’ legs into her waistband so that it all stayed out of her way as she hopped or crawled around. My memories of her are so vivid, even after over two years of not holding her warm little body or seeing her ornery face.
I’ve finally set up my desk so that I could get some work done, or at least attempt to. Over it is my favorite painting I had commissioned in China. It is three small Asian boys holding food pots, squatting in the blinding sunlight. I love the painting—though I did cheat and had a Chinese artist copy it from a famous Burmese artist’s original that I definitely couldn’t afford. Is that illegal? Oops.
On my desk top, I have placed five framed pictures that inspire me. One is my eldest daughter and my grandson. The other four are pictures of children I loved in China, all of them now adopted to loving families; Yue Hua, Le Ci, Le Men, Li Li (with Amanda) and of course one picture is me with Xiao Gou’s arm wrapped around my neck as she plants a sweet kiss on my cheek. That one is hard to look at but I won’t put it away. It reminds me she is still there waiting. There are so many children who have touched my life and made me who I am today; I could cover an entire wall with pictures of them!
So yes, I am feeling a little melancholy. Perhaps it is a combination of unpacking memories combined with the holiday season, I don’t know. Christmas is always tough in my family as there are so many divorces involved and that makes scheduling events extraordinarily hard. It was actually easier when we lived in China and did not have to try to sort out the schedules and hurt feelings, we could just stay in our home and call everyone to wish them a Merry Christmas. But then I was short one daughter and that was always a heart-breaker, too.
We humans make a mess out of life, don’t we? I hope your Christmas season is merry and you are working through your own holiday blues.
Ho Ho Humbug,
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