A day or two ago, I posted to Facebook about my impending departure for China and a friend commented that when most men reach my age the just get a red Corvette. For better, or worse, I’ve never been most men.
As I write this I’m at 37,005 feet above the Pacific Ocean, travelling into a 72 mph headwind at 474 mph, heading southwest toward Shanghai, China, my new home for the next three years.
We did it! After about 6 months of planning and anticipating, Melinda and I have executed the plan: we are living in China! Melinda arrived last week and started the ball rolling on her work permit while I drove to Boise, ID to deliver our beloved Hungarian Vizsla, Izaak to our daughter Hannah and her husband Mike and their Great Dane mix, Ollie and the blue-eyed cat, Detective Stabler. I returned to Seattle and wrapped up last-minute details, amazing how many of them there when you are moving to a foreign country half way around the world. The movers came yesterday and packed up the apartment, with one small air cargo container bound for Shangahi and everything else going to a storage facility in Kent, WA. After the movers were finished, it was my turn to finish cleaning the apartment—I’m optimistic about getting our security deposit back, Melinda say “No way” because we broke the lease 6 months early, But vacuuming out the stove (and the clothes dryer), scrubbing the tub & shower, washing out the refrigerator, sweeping the deck and vacuuming patterns into the carpet, was a good release for my OCD and the stress of moving. James came by around 7 pm to pick me up and drive my four suitcases to a hotel 10 minutes away from SeaTac.
This morning I weighed and balanced my suitcases (again) and shuttled over to the airport. The Delta agent at the baggage drop give me a bit of a start when she said that the S1 Visa requirement, that I apply for a residency permit within 30 days of arriving in China, meant that I need a round trip ticket—or another ticket to leave China and not the one-way ticket I possessed. She checked with 3 other agents, none of whom shared her concern, yet she insisted that I wouldn’t be permitted to board the plane. I explained that I had a ticket, I had a boarding pass, I had a passport and I had a Visa, please check my bags. After 20 minutes of holding up the line she returned my passport and boarding pass along with the admonishment to check with the gate agent as soon as I got to S9. A relatively quick pass through TSA security and a shuttle ride to the S terminal and I was at S9 getting my final boarding pass from the gate agent, the one with the “Docs OK” note printed in the lower left corner.
I was on my way home.
Seven hours into the flight and I can’t sleep; I’ve watched The Way, Way, Back and The Internship, listened to some music and read The New York Times and USA Today. It might be the two Cokes, or the muscle relaxant-pain reliever combo, or the anticipation of seeing Melinda at the airport and beginning the next chapter of our lives, but I’m just not sleepy.
This is better than a red Corvette!