“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
It’s almost been two months, yet it feels like an eternity has passed since I came back to Oklahoma. In such a short time, so much has happened and I have been integrated and reintegrated as though I was never gone. As though an absence had never existed.
Perhaps it didn’t.
Perhaps we overglorify these absences, these voids.
We are where we are. It is what it is. C’est la vie.
The weather today is so much like that of the Chengdu I remember: cold, wet, rainy, and seeping into your bones. Occasionally the dried, yellow terrain reminds me of the plateau. I keep telling people that if you take Oklahoma in the winter and push it up about 10,000 feet that it would look like Tibet. Perhaps that’s my imagination?
I’m back to imagining that the clouds are snow-capped mountains in the distance.
I feel the absence of these things in my life because they were constant and now they are not. However, it is not a bad thing. I am quite content. I take joy in the fact that my little place in the world has expanded. When I see Oklahoma I also see Tibet. When I feel the cold, rainy wind, I feel Chengdu and the friends that are still there. Despite the damp reality I look on all these things warmly, fondly, with familiarity. They are connections I would have never made had I not ventured away from home. I am the better for it.
That said, now that I am back and re-exploring the realm of my childhood with adult eyes, it is all so strange. Everything is still moving forward, I cannot go back to this place as a child. Seeing people I went to high school with working at the local grocery stores, at the banks, walking around the park. They have changed. It is nothing short of bizarre. Suddenly, I don’t know how to interact with them. I don’t know who they are anymore. They don’t know who I am either. My experiences have taken me around the world and I feel like the stranger for having left. I have changed too. It is strange.
“Make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.”
Can I get my certificate for accomplishing this? A gold star sticker? Something…?
It’s becoming the mantra of my life. I suppose it has been for a while, but suddenly that phrase isn’t just words. It’s reality.
As I’ve said before, when I arrived in China it was odd how quickly my new life became normal. Similarly, upon returning State-side I experienced the same speedy adjustment. It was not until I ventured back to the stomping grounds of the first 18 years of my life that the strangeness settled. Like that annoying layer of foam that keeps you from getting to your coffee. That aside, no matter how strange, I am wholeheartedly content and quite happy with where I am. I will never return to being a child (thank goodness…), but there is a simple joy in re-exploring what you thought was so familiar it was boring.
Like hammocking by the pond I grew up fishing in. Haven’t been there in ages!
Checking out books from the library I swore I’d never go back to. My new library card is on point!
Watching sunsets that blaze on the horizon with a ferocious beauty unlike any I have ever seen anywhere else in the wold. That never gets old.
I was quite adamant about never returning to this place when I left. The jokes on me, as usual. And surprisingly, I’m the better for it.
I feel like I have expressed many of these things before, so forgive me if I sound like a broken record. I feel like I had to get something out there in light of my extended silence. 😉
Until next time!
**This was meant to be posted 10 days ago, but on account of a lack of time it was not. Cheers.**