Friday, May 30, 2008

This time next year

Insane. So this thought has been slowly digging at me for the past few days, and every time I acknowledged it I'd sort of be in awe, and then get distracted by something else enough that the thought lost its relevance, only to stew around a little longer, getting more relevant as time wore on. Ok, I know I said just a "few" days, but it's been a weird week for time, what with the long weekend.

Anyways, one of the tasks I have set for myself at the library is to catalogue, label, and store a box-load of CDs that was left in my possession back at the beginning of my tenure here, as well as all the new ones that get recorded as we continue to have programs. At first it seemed like a pretty daunting order, because someone's really been neglecting these things for a while now, but with a trusty (or as trusty as it gets) mail merge set up in Word, it's going way faster than I'd ever anticipated. In fact, I have already completed pretty much every program that I have been present for, and am now moving on into the territory they usually call "before my time."

It's eerie, really, and I'm having trouble articulating why, to now be faced with all of these program names and speakers to which I have absolutely no emotional attachment. Trying to come up with a proper comparison has only led me to remember what I read about the Capgras delusion on wikipedia. Documenting these CDs hasn't exactly been a pleasant stroll down memory lane, or nostalgic at all for that matter, but I was getting used to expecting familiar titles and flier layouts, and such. First of all, to have rushed through that whole time span in a matter of hours was jarring, and I admit I'm a little confused when I look at some of these old program fliers, since information that I now expect to find in certain places is now hidden elsewhere.

It's been like going through a geological sample, watching the devolution of style (not to say that it gets worse, or to say that it doesn't) as the dates go farther back. It's just weird to suddenly be among such unfamiliar objects, and also a little weird to think that while these were being recorded by people I may or may not know, I was somewhere else entirely doing something else entirely.

Which actually leads to the thought I referenced at the start of this whole thing. I have been here almost a year. While it's unlikely that I'll continue loitering here until September (I'm not planning on it at least), that would mark a year of being *here* and that's hard for me to grasp. In less than three months I will have been back on home turf (as it were) for a full year.

A year ago today, this whole situation was as distant from me as the moon. Actually, no... more distant, because I can see the moon pretty clearly. What was I doing? May 29, 2007 (ok, technically May 30). I guess I would still have been teaching as if it weren't no thang. Riding the bus to China Care a few days a week. Breaking out the tank tops for summer. Buying those shorts and capris probably happened at some point around here. Stopping by the fruit stand, drinking lots of water, getting tofu after classes with Russ & Dave, perhaps watching YooHee with Alice and Tara, interviewing teachers, stopping by the French restaurant, reading Lolita, listening to the Stars, shopping at the new grocery store, eating modified ma la chuan and squid and diao zha bing and popsicles, sitting by my window, dreaming about coming home. The entire month of June is missing from my blog, so I have no record of it except for the dates embedded in my digital photos, but I'm assuming that I was busy enough that I didn't waste much time reflecting on it. I wonder if I knew already at the end of May that I'd be spending the rest of my summer in Beijing? I mean, a quick gmail search could answer that question for me, but I'd rather just pose it. I'm wondering if I ever mentioned the frisbee game that we struck up one afternoon, or our various attempts at badminton, or that one housewarming party I went to with Alice.

So it's weird, to be removed from all that by the length of a year. And a strange year. I've been in San Francisco for about 9 months, and I'm still of the mindset that it's temporary. The result is, of course, that I'm even more disconnected from the people around me than even new transplants. It's awkward, but I get the feeling that I don't want to invest myself too much in my surroundings because I *should* pick up and go.

Ok, that was personal. But anyways, should I pick up and go? I'm committed until the end of July, at which point, I ought to have a next step. I don't really remember how to set that up, nor do I really know what I would count as a valid "next step" anyways. What am I going to do in August that will eventually lead me through the course of another year, back to yet another today? That is a very good question.

Part of me says very much that I should just go back to China, no matter what it takes, because something interesting is just bound to happen there. What a bizarre rationale. But...