Leave it to the Brock family to host a going away event where “bring your favorite Chinese take out” was the theme.
A week of goodbyes where there was plenty of food and drinks shared with great friends and family. With every gathering we reminisced and talked about what a great adventure Greg and I were about to begin and everyone had advice.
My brother Ray’s advice was “travel safe and watch your six.” Now, Ray works closely with the military so I was sure it had something to do with the call of duty. I of course said thanks and Googled the term. It’s used mostly by air force pilots and means to watch your back. With 12 o’clock being directly ahead of you, your 6 o’clock is behind you. Your wingman watches your six while you’re busy watching your 12 o’clock and I assume your 3 and 9 o’clock.
On Saturday night we had dinner with a few of our closest friends. They took a different approach – they, together with our kids put together a list of things we would not miss while living abroad. Here’s a few – Overly nice, chatty Oregonians. Man-dal footwear with jean shorts. The new food services offering at NIKE. Moles overtaking the front yard. Finding out Jeopardy is a rerun. Big Al’s. The neighbor’s dog. The branding by local news media of every winter’s “storm.” And, the over-rated status of Voodoo donuts and those who feel the need to purchase them and carry them on to flights out of PDX.
I received advice from work folks as well. From those who have lived overseas the message was unanimous – this will be the greatest experience of your lives. Embrace the culture, travel the region as much as possible and buy your booze at duty free.
Advice came from those in leadership roles at NIKE – respect the culture and deliver the fundamentals. Use your 26 years of NIKE experience and share NIKE’s culture. Remember it’s their country, learn how they do things and give them the confidence to get it done. Don’t “F” it up.
We had great goodbye meals at some of our favorite restaurants. We took in gin & tonics and the fried chicken at Irving Street Kitchen. The heavy on tequila, margaritas and the Speedy Gonzales burrito at Pepitas. We met co-workers for drinks at Kask and then walked over to Tasty and Alder for delicious plates. We enjoyed gin & tonics, pinot noir and tagliatelle at DeCarlis in Central Beaverton. We had beers and sliders at Cafe Murray Hill. My mom and I had coffee and omelets after church this morning at Tom’s Pancake House and Greg and I went to our favorite Chinese restaurant, Lucky Strike tonight for Kung Pao and beers. Detox starts tomorrow.
Our kids may be our biggest supporters through all of this. They toasted us at dinner and each one has reached out to say how proud they are and how cool it is to be able to say “our parents are moving to China.” Matt has checked in several times from Houston where he lives, to make sure we’re okay as we finalize things this week. Meredith has called and sent messages in support from Uruguay where she is working this summer on a project for University of Oregon.
Katie did a drive-by on Friday as I was doing the final clean out of my closets and packing the last bags. We sat on my bed chatting and she asked how I was doing. I said I’ve got tears welled up and could cry if I wanted but that I was also really excited and my stomach has butterflies. That’s when she turned to me and very clearly stated “It’s pre-game. You’ve got pre-game jitters. As soon as you get there and they hand you the ball you’ll be fine. You’ll be great.” She’s right. That’s exactly what it feels like. It’s pre-game. The game starts tomorrow as I fly out to Shanghai.