It’s Sunday. I leave on Wednesday.
I’m still trying my hardest to adhere to the airline (US Airways, Asiana Airlines) baggage restrictions and having minimal luck…until five minutes ago…maybe. With the help of my two wonderful parents, I was able to get the most complicated and irritating parts of the moving preparation taken care of. This included power of attorney docs, my last will, bank account and credit card arrangements…the works! Now, I’ve got nothing left to do but confront my luggage situation, which I’ve been avoiding for days now. I’ve been working on it little by little since I signed my contract, but I’m at the point now where I’ve got to draw cold hard lines. I refuse to pay exorbitant fees for overweight and oversize bags, so I must accept that I’ll have to finish that book when I return to the States. And it’s really not about the literature, but the relationship that it represents. And the comfort that it would offer me when I’m caught in the pits of homesickness. I hate prioritizing the items that I hold dearest to my heart. (By the way, so that we’re clear, I had to drop more than just a book. I dropped several, plus other non-literature items.)

There’s a loophole in the system that will allow me some extra wiggle room and I’m taking full advantage of it. Most airlines, including the ones that apply to me, allow each passenger a “personal item” in addition to a carry-on piece of baggage and as long as it fits under the seat in front of me, it’s okay to go. I’m taking a huge purse and stuffing it with all of my heaviest items. It weighs 20 lbs or more. My back will suffer, but the pain will be a small price to pay.

My dad is packing up his car to drive to Miami today. Actually, he’ll only get as far as Savannah, Georgia by tonight. He likes to break the trip up into two days. The 13 hour drive isn’t as draining that way. We had our last breakfast together this morning. He hasn’t left yet, but he will in just a few minutes and I’m anticipating a hard goodbye.

He gave me a fish-shaped netsuke as a token of his love and well-wishes on my travels. I have another of my own that was probably crafted by the same person. It’s carved into the shape of a mermaid, one of my favorite mythological creatures. When I get settled in China, I’ll find some silk thread to string the two netsuke beads/buttons together and hang around my neck.

A half-hour later, my mom gave me a parting gift of her own: A medicine bag (as she calls it) full of little treasures. Giving the medicine bag to me was quite emotional for her because it had given her comfort during some of the most important journeys of her life. I’m honored to receive both wonderful gifts.

Finally, picture this: I’m sitting in the dining room of my home in Asheville, NC. As I look out the window, I can see two things very clearly: the clusters of bright yellow and orange daffodils in my mom’s front garden–proof of premature seasonal warming–and fat white snowflakes blowing down from the sky–proof of what may be one of this winter’s coldest days in Asheville. I wore a t-shirt and mini-skirt yesterday. I even sweated a little on my walk to lunch with friends. My dad remarked a few days ago that he heard bird song in the morning for the first time in months. I heard them this morning.
So is it Winter or Spring?

Tomorrow’s forecast for Foshan, Guangdong, China (my soon-to-be new home) is WET with w a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Seems like it’s more like Spring over there. Rain and all.