It seems impossible. Hanna and Eileen have their visas and can go shortly after I do. The immigration process seemed really difficult before we actually got into it, but it was more time consuming than difficult. Hanna had to go to her hometown a couple times and then to Beijing to drop off documents, Shanghai for the physical, and Guangzhou for the interview.
Everybody always throws themselves a party on the way out, obligating a celebration, and though we've tried to avoid any noise of our own, several people talk about parties and all the stuff we should do before we go. A couple people have even told Hanna how she ought to feel at this moment, right before she goes to a totally different way of doing things. Their expressions suggest that anything but excitement is a bad emotion, one that she shouldn't feel. The question is never "Are you ever going to come back?" but only "When are you coming back?" I don't know how to answer. They point out how easy life is for foreigners over here—financially, they always mean, as though that ended it.
I'm reading Tristram Shandy for the fourth time (since 2007, I've read it every odd-numbered year). I just finished book 6, and I'm thinking about all the digressions I still need to get into, all the things I didn't write, especially since the beginning of last year. What function will this online space serve?