Monday, June 23, 2014

Bon Voyage, Billy!

Billy overlooking the Forbidden City
It's been nearly six months since I've seen my oldest son, Billy. Well, I guess that's not entirely accurate since we've Skype on a near weekly basis. But I haven't been physically in the same place since January 6th, when we returned home from our holiday vacation in Asia. He's been in Guangzhou China for a year as a Luce Scholar having an incredible experience working at a university and traveling throughout Asia.
His program is winding down, and for the next 3 weeks he will be traveling throughout the western provinces of China and then going to Myanmar for 2 weeks for the program wrap up and then 5 days in Japan as he makes his way finally home.

We were fortunate to have a close friend meet up with Billy in Hong Kong and bring one of Billy's duffel bags home so he wouldn't have to lug it on his travels. This afternoon, I emptied the bag. It was full of winter clothes, lots of Chinese tea and tea making accoutrements, books, Chinese watercolor paintings that Billy created and the odds and ends that he picked up over the course of his year living in Guangzhou.
It's funny, but as I unpacked his things, I could smell his scent, and feel his presence in the items. In a strange way it made me feel his absence more acutely than I have all year. Of course as his mom, I'm worried about his travels over the next 3 weeks, as he goes into areas where there is some unrest in China. I know he will have an incredible experience but at this point I just want him safely home. Though as a 23 year old young man, I know he probably will never be home for extended periods of time again. (But it would be nice to at least have him on the same continent for a change!)
It's hard to let go of your kids, but when they are half way across the world you are forced to. At least physically. Emotionally, you never do. Distance doesn't matter, it just makes it more of a challenge. We are so lucky to have the technology available that shrinks the world. But for the next few weeks, we will be incommunicado for the most part. So I'll have to hope that he can text message when he's at transportation centers to let me know he's okay, and learn not to worry too much. Yeah, like that's going to happen!

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