Sunday, March 01, 2009

Constant Uncertainty

The worst part of expatriate life is the constant uncertainty - few of my friends have any idea how long they will be in Shanghai or where they will go next.  Many people go through the same uncertainty we faced last summer - will we be moving to Singapore in 3 weeks or staying in Shanghai for another year?  People frequently receive under 1 month's lead time before moving out of town entirely.

Unfortunately, the lifestyle in Shanghai only compounds that uncertainty.  Leases change on a whim, shops and restaurants close as quickly as they opened, and friends leave with no more than a week's notice.

We have just received word that L--'s school will close its doors this summer.  No longer sending L-- there next year.  No longer sending S-- there next year.  And I begin the preschool search again - that same torture of searching for the perfect school and then moving around our life to make that school possible.

And this time, I dread it.  Because last year, I only found one perfect school.  We moved our home across town to send L-- to that one perfect school.  And boy, is it perfect.  We love the teachers and the setting, we love the philosophy on learning, we love the other kids and the other parents.  L-- and I have both made some wonderful friends.  So now I begin the search knowing that the perfect school isn't out there, instead seeking its far second.

Of course, the situation is not so dire this year.  L-- has gained tremendous social confidence through her time at The Wonder Center.  S-- already has plenty of social confidence, and is only beginning school this fall because she so desires to be surrounded by other people.  The girls will be fine.

But dang it.

These years we have faced such change and turmoil.  Changing houses fewer than every 12 months - and I have no love for this home, and so a new school may just mean a new home at the end of this lease.  We left behind our good friends across town with our last move.  This time, our good friends surround The Wonder Center.  A new school means leaving all of those friends behind.

I'll admit it.  When I received the news, I cried.

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