I never imagined writing a blog again after leaving China, and I guess now that I'm in America the title of my blog is no longer applicable. I'm no longer "Racher in Chiner." More like "Chiner in Racher." You can take the girl out of China, but you can't take China out of the girl.
I really don't care if anyone reads this. In fact, I probably could have just written it in my journal. But as I was driving down the road today thinking about my life, I realized that I would like for there to at least be a chance that someone would read it. It's basically all the things I feel like I need to say out loud but I'm not sure who to say them to. So this is my compromise.
I've found lately that life is just easier if I avoid thinking about China. I can go several days without really dwelling on any memories or thoughts and I feel relatively normal and ok. Then, all it takes is a text from a friend in Chinese that just triggers something inside of me and I almost feel like my heart could explode. I try not to think about my kids, about my friends I left behind, about my apartment, about my community, about my travels, about anything. Right now it's just too painful. I've already woken up twice in the night crying because I was dreaming about my kids. In my dreams I'm seeing them but I know I won't see them again... and I just cry. I do talk to some of them via text, but its not the same. It's hard to communicate when we can't incorporate our sign language and body gestures. And it's impossible to receive hugs through the phone. Somebody work on that, please?
Even though I've been consciously trying to avoid thoughts of China, they subconsciously pop up in my mind every day. And I still find myself doing weird things, like trying to throw away my toilet paper, panicking for a split second because I realize I've bought more groceries than I can carry home, wondering if it's safe to click on a controversial link about China, or responding to every comment with "mei shi." I try not to speak Chinese, because I know no one understands what I'm saying and it could get old really quick, but it does occasionally just slip out.
I think another reason I try to avoid thoughts of China is because as soon as I start thinking about it, it all builds up inside me and then I have no way to get it out. It's really hard to talk about China with people who have never been and just can't relate. Sometimes I find myself on the edge of bringing it up, and then I back out. I guess I'm kind of afraid to talk about it. Afraid that they won't care and don't want to hear it. Afraid that they're already tired of hearing about it. Afraid they won't understand why being back in America isn't the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Part of me is also very protective. It's like my memories are sacred and I don't really want to share them with outsiders because I know they won't appreciate how precious they are to me.
There's also this problem of people actually listening. Americans are not great listeners. Can we just take a second to acknowledge how much everyone in America talks? I have truly been overwhelmed by how much people talk at me every day. It makes me not want to tell people things because I know all they're going to do is turn it around to be about themselves and that will probably launch us into another hour long story. I guess this whole paragraph is a little hypocritical. Apparently I don't want to listen to them either.
So now that I've gotten some of that off my chest, lets talk about a few good things.
I love the grocery stores in America. I have dreams about those too. If I wasn't worried what the people in Ingles would think about me, or how much money I would spend, I would probably just go once a week and slowly walk up and down every single aisle. I try to act as normal as possible in grocery stores but inside I am still overwhelmed and in awe.
I have a car. I love my car. It's pretty amazing how quickly you can get across town, even with what we consider "bad traffic." It's also amazing how quiet and roomy my commute is compared to a Beijing subway ride. I no longer feel exhausted by going out to lunch or a trip to the store. Life in general is way less exhausting because of how easy it is to get around. As I drive down the road I am constantly saying, "Thank you, God, for my car."
Being close to family is awesome. My sister just had her first baby yesterday, and I was there. I got to see her through the last 4 months of her pregnancy and watch her cute little belly grow. I got to leave work today during my lunch break and go to the hospital and hold sweet baby Cohen. If I was in China, best case scenario I would have met him in January, but most likely I would have had to wait until next summer. I'm so very thankful to be close enough to swing by for kisses and cuddles whenever I want.
There are many more good things and many more hard things. Life is hard and life is wonderful. Transition is always a little of both. Through it all, I'm thankful to know without a doubt that I'm right where God has called me for this season of life. Who knows what the future holds. Right now I'm just working on living fully and contentedly where I am.