When Thoreau started writing Walden, he began with a statement of purpose; a mission statement to lay out his intentions and theories of how it might turn out. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” He wrote, and I have repeated over and over in my head.
I came to China with my own mission statement. Like Thoreau, it’s not a very long-term goal, though I hope it’s much longer than his was. I don’t know how many understand why I am here. Being a single mother with absolutely no other financial support, I could not take care of my children in America without government assistance, and whatever I was being given was being taken away. I did not make enough money to survive for a single month, and my car’s “check engine” light was on forever. This is actually why I moved to Thailand.
I picked Thailand because I could speak Thai from my time in the Peace Corps in Thailand. Through connections, and some help, I moved to the same general region I had lived before. I had connections, and it wasn’t completely new to me. I taught at a university, and honestly, it was the second worse job I ever had. (The first was working in a factory for a week with piped in country music. Can’t believe I lasted 5 days.) I was making good money for Thailand, but not for the rest of the world. I could pay for all necessities easily, but vacations, traveling, getting new things, and trying to actually get out, were A LOT more difficult or even impossible.
A friend of mine spent a month convincing me to go to China, where I would make much more money and have a higher standard of living. I don’t want to get into the details of how that all fell through, and also, how I was “stuck” for some time between countries and jobs, but I did go to China eventually to a different company and a different city.
My goal has always been to provide a good home for my girls and be able to provide them with their basic necessities. Anything above and beyond that has been a bonus. So here in Shanghai, we have a really beautiful apartment. I walk to work (a job I really love). I can afford to buy my lunches. I employ a nanny to watch the girls, take care of the house and cook two meals. We even have extra money. I get a haircut about once a month. We go to museums, and interesting places, and I can give them presents at Christmas and on their birthdays.
The first year here was very difficult, but I waited patiently, and then a few weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch, watching a DVD with the girls after eating a great meal, and I realized, I have arrived. I had to wait and struggle for over four years, but I am finally in a position to take care of my family. Yea me!