Our village market. I took this photo on our first day in China.
We arrived and settled in our new apartment, and I flung open all the curtains. Out the front of apartment was a stereotypical Chinese city scene - bustling, grimy, and raucous - bikes weaving between cars, sellers hawking their goods, the smell of street food mixing with exhaust and trash. Overwhelmed, I looked out the windows in the back of the apartment and I was looking at a stereotypical American suburban scene. Strip mall, rows and rows of gleaming SUVs in the parking lot, insular and quiet as all the people walked straight to their cars. Heat rising off the black asphalt with the quiet roar of a nearby freeway turning the otherwise silence into white noise. Comforted, I sat down in the middle of the room.
And I don't know if I've ever left.
I always feel a little caught between two worlds. It's been a hard re-entry process, but I finally feel like I've found my feet and discovered my place.
The canal I walked beside every day. I took this picture on one of my last days there.
And we're going back. (For a visit friends, not to live.)
In two months, my dear sister-in-law and I will bravely load up Cora and fly to China for a 10 day stay in the dusty, grimy, raucous village so close to my heart. We will hold babies. We will develop new products for Scarlet Threads, and we will try to manage a jet lagged toddler.
(Which, if I'm being honest, strikes fear to my very core.)
And I had another dream.
I dreamed I walked down the main street of that dusty, grimy, raucous village and it wasn't. The street had been widened and repaved. The vendors were gone. The traffic moved smoothly and in Western-logical-traffic patterns. No horns. No unmuffled engines. No smells.
I woke up with a start and realized I was afraid. The heavy feeling was dread. I felt so sad.
What if everything has changed? What if I don't have a place anymore? What if I go back and find myself overwhelmed by all that was once familiar? What if the China-of-my-memory is not China-of-today? (A very reasonable concern; if you haven't been there, you would not believe how quickly things change... whole villages razed in a single day. Buildings constructed seemingly overnight.) What if I've changed? What if I get there and immediately can't wait to come back home, to my comfortable little house - clean and sparkling with unheard of luxuries like bathtubs and electric dryers and dish-washers?
I know I need to do this. I've spent a lot of time here in the middle... and I have this gut feeling that the more I live between the two worlds, the more I can make them one in my heart. I know for a fact things have changed in the village, just as they've changed in me. I know it won't be "just like old times," but I don't really know what it will be - and I admit, I am scared. I don't want to overshadow my happy memories with a bad experience, nor do I want to disrupt my current settledness with a new desire to go back. I have no idea how I will feel, and it scares me.
This is a post without resolution. Only a request. Will you pray for me? I'm very excited and very scared all at the same time.