I’m long overdue for a proper update, so here goes.
As much as it pains me to write this out (and thus make it real), we’ve decided to stay in Beijing for another six months to a year. If this decision had been mine and mine alone, we’d have been back on the first plane to Kunming about a year ago, and up until very recenly, the plan was to go back after my contract with the high school ended in June. But starting a few months ago my husband started making noises about staying in Beijing. He had his reasons — the biggest one seemed to be an absolute dread of moving cross country again (and I will admit, the first time was a massive massive hassle. Imagine moving from South Carolina to San Francisco, that sort of headache), but there were also sound financial reasons too.
The undeniable fact is that I make a lot more money here than I could possibly make in Yunnan. And while I’m willing to take a pay cut and move back there, it would be nice to move with a bit more savings. Considering that we’re expecting baby #2 in December, savings are pretty important. Moving would eat up most of what we had, and I would not be able to get a real job in Kunming until at least next Spring, which would leave us reliant on whatever myself and my husband could scrape together through freelancing. So facing the logic, I agreed to ask my principal for an extension on my contract.
The process of getting my contract extended was really drawn out and we were in a sort of limbo for weeks until a few days ago. The school obviously had reservations about re-hiring a pregnant woman, but ultimately I was saved, I think, by the fact that there is a sort of changing of the guard going on at my school and the principal had my back. What clinched the decision for me was being told that I’d be paid over Summer holiday, which was a tremendous relief, because even assuming I could extend my contract, I’d been very stressed out about what a Summer in Beijing without income would do to our savings, which isn’t to say they’d have been depleted completely, but a nice chunk would have gone to rent alone.
So anyhow, we’re staying in Beijing, as much as I am not a fan of Beijing. We do plan on moving to a new apartment, since this one is starting to feel a bit small, not to mention the fact that it is an older apartment (not charmingly old, just old) and that comes with its own issues. With Summer income we should also be able to take a trip somewhere without touching our savings, and I am really pulling for another trip to the beach, perhaps Thailand if I can convince my husband, as well as a visit to Kunming so that my son can see his uncles, aunts, and cousins. So I’m trying to look on the bright side of things. The good thing is that I do like my job, the hours are good, the pay is good, and I’m rather attached to my students at this point. Finding a good job in China is not easy — there are a lot of mediocre jobs, but not a whole lot of jobs that you can really say are great. Which isn’t to say my job is perfect, because it isn’t, but overall I don’t have a whole lot to complain about. I’ll also be able to have our baby in Beijing, which means more options for the birth and hopefully my husband will be able to be present this time. Beijing has other perks too, easy access to Western food, and English language books whenever I want them. The downside means we’ll be spending another year away from friends and away from the only family that my son has in China, living in the big bad city, far removed from any semblance of natural beauty.
Anyhow, it is what it is, and I’m trying to remain positive. Right now we’re placing a definite limit on Beijing and will not be here any longer than another year (but watch me say that again next year, heh), by which time we should be in a better position to move. It really took me awhile to accept the fact that staying here was the best decision for our family, even if it isn’t really what I want in my heart to do. But hey, that’s part of what being a family is all about, it isn’t just about me and what I want anymore, is it? And that’s probably good, because left to their own devices my wants are often far from practical, and in fact tend towards wildly irresponsible. So Beijing it is, and although I don’t have to exactly like it, I’m going to deal with it. We have our whole lives left to live in Kunming, the fun has only just started.