About three years ago, I spent days, weeks, even months saying goodbye to my family and friends in America with the intention of moving back after a one-year stint in China. Fast-forward to the present, and I just had to go through the same thing - the same feelings, emotions, and tears leaving China.
When moving to Asia I was on an adventure to see a different part of the world, to learn about myself, to immerse myself in a new, foreign culture. I had not forseen creating a close-knit family on the other side of the world. These people taught me so much about life; it's something I can never repay. In three years, we've done so much together - we've traveled, we've partied (I mean partied hard), we've argued, we've laughed our asses off, we've celebrated the holidays I would normally celebrate with my family in America, we've watched loads of movies and tv shows, we've helped each other get jobs, we've torn up towns all over South East Asia, we've met and helped show each other's families around Nanjing, we've gone to concerts, we've written and sang songs together, we've pushed each other, we've supported one another, we've visited each other in the hospital, we've created traditions, we've played sports like volleyball, football, cornhole, soccer, basketball, bowling, darts, surfing, frisbee, virtual golf, adopted families, we've played more cards than one can imagine, we've gone to professional soccer games where we were the ones getting the standing ovation on Halloween, we've camped out, we've rode and swam with elephants, we've cooked, we've played trivia, we've gone to weddings, we've made new friends, and most importantly we've been there for each other and learned from one another.
In China, I experienced these things with the people in the above photo over and over. It's hard to describe the bond that I've created with my friends in Nanjing who come from all over the world.
Steve Wood and myself at a wedding reception of one of our Candian friends. Steve and I met randomly at a bar (Ellens) in town my first summer in Nanjing. He and his friend were sitting at a table near me and watched me go up to the bar and just grab a bottle of beer. In their brogue Scottish accents they asked what the heck was going on. I replied "free beer on Thursdays from 8 - 9...just go grab one." I was quickly challenged to a drinking competition, which I immediately declined understanding that I did not stand a chance against two Scottsmen. The very next day we saw each other outside of the apartment complex I lived in (which is not even close to town), found out we would be coworkers the following semster, and from then on, Steve and I were close buds.
Steve and I have been through a lot together. We've both had our fair share of injuries, he taught me how to play the guitar when I made an outlandish deal to learn, and we've had many deep and meaningful conversations about anything and everything. I introduce him first because had he not been on packing duty at our apartment right before leaving, Ryan and I would not have made it out of China. He was our saving grace. He kept us both in check. He's a very honroable, trustworthy, and reliable friend. China would not have been the same without him.
To my China family!