I am well into a life transition. I am packing some things and discarding others. I am closing up my life here in Korea in increments, according to a calendar.
As I have taught my students, life transitions are processes with their typical stages of emotions. It can be a roller coaster ride. As the end of my present contract has been getting nearer and nearer, the more often I go through ups and downs: fear, anxiety, butterflies, joy, excitement and grief. Since I have been planning my escape for over a year, I have already come to terms with the fact of separation and the anticipation and perils of change. I have been experiencing waves of loss, sadness, anger, spite, wistfulness, and jubilance. It seems to happen in cycles of excitement and happiness followed by fear and sadness. The point at which I said "Yes" to the winter house-sitting gig brought home the reality of saying good-bye to this life. I procrastinated at booking my flight for several weeks, but was forced to go through with the booking so as to satisfy my host abroad and coordinate things with her. I knew that buying the ticket would initiate a process of relocation, and it was therefore a dramatic moment.
The calendar of my planning hinges on two dates: my December pay day, which is Christmas, and the date on which my departing flight for Vancouver is booked. I feel it will be safe to put in my notice and announce it after Christmas. To give notice too soon might result in an premature closing of my employee file and cost me a final month or two of salary, even though the expiration of my contract is dated February 28, 2017, January is normally time for winter work, and February for vacation travel. The employer likes to be told 4 months in advance, but they have been known to pay out two months later and deny severance pay and return airfare when they have gotten such an early notice. We have learned to delay giving notice until about two months before the end of the contract so as to get our due.
I suppose many are not expecting my decision. They just ask what I'm doing this winter. I have therefore merely told the curious that I intend to fly back to Vancouver mid-January because a friend wants me to house-and pet-sit at that time, which is the truth. I just don't inform them that I do not intend to return. When loving students say they will look me up next semester, I say something like, "Good and have a good winter break." Well, I know it is not a promise and the reality is that only occasionally does any student look me up the following semester, and only occasionally do students manage to enroll in one of my classes for the consecutive time because of conflicting schedules and program restraints. I don't feel bad about being discreet. They're young; though they may retain some memory of their teachers, they move on quickly and the teacher is soon out of mind. I prefer to think that anyway, and I prefer to be businesslike about it all. I do not want big farewells, anyway. I would rather be discreet and avoid the drama. I can get way to emotional, and have been known to start sobbing at times, which probably comes across as exaggerated or inappropriate, but I cannot help it. I just start gushing tears.
Not wishing my employer to learn of my decision to leave too soon, I am being discreet about giving up the possessions I don't wish to cart off to Canada, which is inhibiting. I have as yet refrained from posting a list of things I wish to sell or give away, and have instead chosen, for the time being, to pick away at my belongings and carry away small amounts of items in innocuous looking shopping bags to the charitable collection bins or garbage bins, or pass along the odd item to a friend or neighbour. I have invited colleagues and members of social network groups to take or buy a few odd items, explaining that I am just housekeeping and getting rid of things that I no longer use. It is true that the first items I parted ways with were things that had been lying around unused for some time, and responders were hot to grab free offers such as a bike, a folding table, Korean language study materials and hand weights. The priced items are still with me; everyone tries to hold out to get freebies, I guess. It is amazing the amount of communication it can take to coordinate a simple pick-up. There is only so much labour I am willing to do to unload some item without payment, so I have gotten impatient with the procrastinators. I can hold out, too; there is time. I'll announce open houses at my apartment and my office between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, when I hope to dispense with the bulk of the stuff up for grabs, and I hope to get some cash in exchange for it.
I have made inquiries to airline cargo services and shipping agents. The airlines charge too much and the agents deal with container-sized shipments. As I am only thinking of including a couple of suitcases and a few boxes in a shipment, my order is too small. Unfortunate, because I might be able to have my TV and printer moved by that means. However, I am in university paid and furnished housing, so I only have small articles. I will have to give up the TV and the printer, and make do by using the government postal service in order to keep a minimum quantity of my stuff. I have already sent off to shoe-boxes with documents and odd articles like sewing notions and stationery stuff, and a cost of almost $40. I have an extra piece of luggage that would cost $200 to check in on the day of the flight, so I am thinking of doing without it and instead filling one largish box with mostly mixed clothing and linens to be delivered as parcel post, and risking the extra weight baggage fee by trying to stuff all remaining excess materials into the two bags I will check in. That method seems to be my best and most cost efficient option with respect to moving my possessions.
The only thing is the birds. I must broaden my search for a good new home for them right away. I took pictures for a posting today; I can post the information to a network of animal rescuers and pet lovers where I would have the best chance of finding a suitable stranger to take them on. So far, my word by mouth among a few acquaintances has not produced any serious interest. I need to resolve the problem soon so that I can assist with the move and transition of my little friends' lives.
I really must start to put out the call for a new home for my little flock tomorrow morning. It pains me, though. I will miss them. They have brightened up my life in this small dull apartment. They have been very amusing. I have loved taking care of them and getting to know them, but the long voyage would be too risky and certainly very stressful. Their health and skills at flight and play have come along well and I don't want to trigger a setback. The newest to the family, the tiny mottled Society finch, has turned out to be the most adventurous and playful. He sure can sing, too! Parting with them is a big step and just the thought of it has been affecting me already. They will have a better chance at adjusting to a new home around hear than taking that epic and uncomfortable lengthy journey abroad, especially as I would have no place to keep them until I get settled.
Actually, I realised how emotional I have been getting about the move as I taped up the parcels in the post office and requested documents from my medical file after my last medical appointment. I found myself getting quite annoyed, then felt almost teary afterward. "Ah-hah!" I thought. It was apparent that the difficulty of making this change is getting to me. Around the time I was taking care of these matters, I was also going through the last week of classes for the semester, which is the last week of classes I'll teach in Korea. Some days I think this is the last time I'm seeing this person, or buy this item or use this service. It can verge on morbidity. Each time I even think about closing my bank accounts, or canceling my internet service and whatnot, I experience emotional twinges. I have also circulated an invitation to celebrations of my birthday, my "big fat" 60ieth, in fact. That is another milestone, isn't it?--the biggest reason why I feel I should get out of Korea and make a change now in my life. I guess this event is at the root of my conflict over the departure, as well as the act of departure itself. The transition would only get harder and harder the longer and longer I waited. It is nonetheless quite an emotional time to make the move now.
Overall, I feel good about doing it now. I know that there are a lot of options for me now, and opportunities opening up now that could be missed by waiting too long. I feel happy about what could happen for me at this turning point. I am hot to get into new work and other activities back in Canada. I am happy to be embarking upon a renewed life in a phase of positive upswing, at least personally (though certainly not in terms of the world situation! Characteristically, I have waited way to long to move on before. I have learned that lesson well. I intend to save myself time and grief in the future by getting out while things are going well. This way, I have far more control of my life and can get a grip on far more choices.