First- setting the scene:
It's December 2015, and we are again celebrating Christmas in a land where people only see it as another retail holiday. There's decor all over the sparkling city, but lacks the depth and warmth of our childhood memories. We take Alden to see Santa for the first time- a genuinely old white man with a true American accent! (Pretty impressive) Anyways, we are at the phase of our lives where our careers are going well and, like most expats, we miss home. For T, its been 12 years. I'm surprised he still speaks english. Thru friends networks, T receives a job offer in Silicon Valley, and they want him in 2 weeks. We are paying our own relocation. The challenge was I had a week long photoshoot scheduled in SF during Chun Jie.... and our tickets were already purchased for our annual pilgrimage. Suddenly what would have been a routine family visit was moving countries. I repeat, moving, countries. We sadly broke the news to our community. It was really, really tough. Heart breaking. I was about 4 month pregnant. People said, "I thought you'd be here forever. You've always been here," and "You can't leave before us!". We had a centrally located apartment and hosted many a gatherings on the years. Holidays. Slumber parties. Costume parties, dinners, birthdays, play dates, ridiculous parties, baby showers for men, and then some. If anyone needed anything, we usually had it. People would just show up for random things, like a power ranger costume. We had built such a strong community, it felt like we were pulling the bottom Jenga tile. And we would have to re build in America. The promised land. We always imagined this day would eventually come- as it does from most expats in China (few foreigners are allowed residence permits, usually for a seismic business deed) Since we both moved to China directly after university its the only Adult life we knew.
Suddenly we had 4-6 weeks to pack up and move to America.