Back in the Heartland

Hello, I have missed you all.

Seriously. Then again it might be the two cups of coffee talking.

This three week absence has left a space of silence in my heart. There have been other noises and things keeping me busy and distracting me from the one thing that keeps me sane: writing.

Some of these noises and distractions have been warmly welcomed back into my life, as they are things that I missed so dearly whilst away. For example, the weather, specifically storms. If you do not live in a place that that regularly experiences thunderstorms you might not understand what I am talking about. For me thunder is a second heartbeat. I did not realize how in tune with the weather I am until I was in a place so boringly mild. No offense, Chengdu. Another weather-related friend I missed was the wind. Many Oklahomans complain about it, and granted it does cause mischief, but for me she has a voice all her own. I missed listening to her song in the trees and across these great plains.

In other news, the reasons for my delay in writing have been as numerous as they are exciting!

Upon returning to the US of A, I gave myself a two week grace period during which time I removed all pressure of having to find a job, decide if I want to go on to graduate school, where I am living, blogging, and the like.

Now this is coming from the girl who gave herself sick days every semester whether she needed them or not, but I truly believe that “grace periods” or “rest days” or whatever you call them can have a really big impact on life. It allows healthy time for perspective, something we don’t often treat ourselves to. By removing the pressure of performing as is expected we get the opportunity to enjoy the things that are actually important rather than dive into what only seems important.

I came back knowing I would need a job. That was an understood from the beginning, even before I left for China. However, I think it would have been too much to enact “Operation Employment” immediately when I got back. Instead I just enjoyed people, some I hadn’t seen in months, and others I was meeting for the first time (note: not everyone I visited with is pictured).


Yay for all the happy photos…now. To the heart of the matter, the question that I’ve been asked over and over again: “How was your trip?”

For these first few weeks I have struggled with an answer to this question. For lack of a better response, I usually answer with “Long…”

How do you pack five months into one answer? You don’t. Also I didn’t go on a “trip.” Trips last a few weeks, maybe a month. I suppose that the end of my stay in China was a trip, but China was life. The same as work or school was life for the people here. Life is a journey, so I suppose we can say I went on a journey. Those typically last longer, right?

Regardless, it has been tough to find an appropriate response that fits the mold for American small talk. Additionally, there’s another question that I am frequently asked,”How’s being back?”

To this I finally have an answer: strangely normal. It’s true.

When I stepped off the plane and walked into the loving arms of family and friends (that literally ambushed me as I passed through the security checkpoint), it was as though I had never left. That was weird. It still is.

As a result I’m finding it difficult to process China. I don’t want to forget, which is why I’m continuing my “Step:…” chronology of my last two weeks in China. It is why I started this blog six months ago. I do not want to forget.

So how do you process something that feels like it never happened? Sometimes I talk to Alex, who feels the same way. She’s the only thing that reminds me it was real.

I suppose the whole point of it being a “process” is that it takes time.

Until next time!

~A

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