Countdown to Departure

With less than two weeks remaining before our departure on the first day of Spring (March 21st), we have made great strides and ticked numerous tasks off our To Do lists. Last week, we moved out of our house and cleaned it from top to bottom, and then had to go back a few days later to clean and repair some more.

As the days wore on, at least for me, the cleaning of the house became less about retrieving most of our deposit money and more about restoring the house to its former glory. Our almost fanatical dedication to removing more than our share of the dust and grime was ritualistic. Stripping the walls of years of exhalations and oil spat from so many evenings’ cooking pans gave the house that had become our home new life, the walls bright for what seemed like the first time.

We worked in silence, save for the thump of pop music in the background of our thoughts. As I scrubbed I thanked whatever there is to thank that in this house we were given our second chance at being together. I also thanked the fireplace for keeping its embers to itself, thanked the stove for not filling our dreams with noxious fumes, thanked the plumbing that used to make the floor tremble. While we scrubbed and sprayed, we also cleansed ourselves. We closed this chapter of our lives and mentally prepared for the coming days. Leaving this house in better shape than we found it inflated our confidence and made it all seem more accomplishable.

The evidence of past tenants was invisible until we had to get up close to examine every inch of every surface. We met our predecessors on the back of the oven, underneath a fine layer of ash in the fireplace, and on the backside of the Venetian blinds. These were acquaintances we’ll never meet. How many sponges did we run through to find the marks you left here?

This devotion to cleaning our house can be explained by our commitment to bettering our world. We leave everything better than we left it- we devise rubbish collecting schemes and share our wealth of information at any opportunity.

Days after we thought we had left the house for the last time, we came back to replace the threshold to the bedroom. It felt unfamiliar, smelled different, and our voices echoed through the empty rooms. The house was almost hostile, sterile even, standing here brazenly naked, all its protective grime removed down to the raw paint. By the end of that day, I was glad to close the white picket fence behind us for the last time and walk toward our new life.

Photo Taken and Edited by Emily Furlong

Yesterday was also a productive day for us as we finished the medical checks required for foreign teachers by the college where we will be teaching in China, Tian Fu College. It is a relief to finish navigating multiple doctor’s appointments for the physicals, chest x-rays, EKGs, and vaccinations. I got a tetanus shot yesterday and experienced the sore arm and low grade fever that often accompany that particular inoculation.

Next on the agenda is packing.

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