After our first two scorching days here, it is raining today; a welcome relief and helping us to enjoy to some of the simple treats inside, like an old book on how to make paper airplanes.
The comfort of all these giant cottonwoods wading in their sea of lush green grass, as well as the presence of my ever-helpful parents and the quieting surroundings of home, and green, and everything in my own language is not lost on me.
But there is still jet lag, which wakes everyone up at the wrong hours of the night and makes them crash hard in the middle of the day. And there is this pressure mounting somewhere behind my eyes and hovering over my shoulders with all the people that need to be seen and the doctor's appointments and the fact that we are in a very small house and that my two year old has turned into something out of a nightmare. She's two, and that could be it. Or we've traveled half the world and just finished packing up our entire life, and that could be it. Or she's spirited and strong and has no ability to control herself at this point in her life, and that could be it. Or all of these things.
And I suppose there may be part of me that is beginning to feel the same way as this spirited two year old who wailed, "I want to go hoooooome!!" repeatedly on the plane, likely feeling as though the seats and confinement and food was not quite as comfortable as the bed in her old room. I don't want to go home right now, but I know that when we do leave the States next month to return to China, it will not be to anything familiar. And though I've mostly been trying to work through that transition in my head and heart and felt as though it was going rather, well, normal... the fact that there is no apartment yet waiting for us, and that our stuff still sits in our apartment in Qingdao without anything quite finalized as to the date or even how it will be moved, has left me feeling pretty unsettled myself.
Two years ago, on our first trip back to the States for the summer, I had grand and elevated ideas and excitement about what that visit would look like. Then reality with a 7 month old nursing baby and jet lag and sleepless nights which affected my entire demeanor and ability to visit well with people I'd been missing for two years rudely interrupted that idyllic picture. And this time around I may have done it again. Maybe a two and a half year old doesn't travel much better. Other factors have also once again taken over and I'm beginning to think a little re-adjustment in what I think or know these precious few weeks will look like is in order.
Re-adjustment may just look like: a good cry (check), prayer and surrender (check, check, check... keep checking), a good talk with my mom... "perhaps there is more joy when you receive something if you did not first demand your own way" (check), a trip to Target (check).
The trip to Target proved to have it's own emotional landscape to maneuver. Often the first entry into a store in the States after a couple years away can produce some intense reactions. I've heard of many friends who have left in tears without buying anything, because they feel so overwhelmed... by the sheer variety of options in the shampoo aisle. This may not be so extreme anymore, as more and more is available in China. But I dare say it is still overwhelming.
What triggered it for me this time was strangely enough, the medicine aisle. The bandaid selections and row upon row of remedy for nearly any ailment you can imagine, and all so clearly laid out and explained for you in your own language! I kid you not there were tears forming in my eyes. Is it because I miss this? Because I feel the disparity between what I could have on a daily basis and don't? Because I feel at a loss over what to choose to bring with me and what to do without? I mean, we always have done without and so many people do... do I need this stuff?
And then the most ridiculous thing I saw today had to have been the miniature size filtered water dispenser for your pet dog. The sight of it just sent me over the top. There is nothing you cannot get here.
Oh, the joys of re-entry! They are numerous and confusing and I gladly welcome them... most of them. I can hear the marbles clicking right now as Gramma plays a fierce round of Chinese checkers with the boys, and sweet Scout is curled up on the bed upstairs. But she slept through most of the night last night and may be on her way to a normal schedule.
My heart knows this is what He has for us right now and that instead of tightening up, I need to bow my head and open my hands, unclench them every day, over and over. These days, full as they are with all manner of change and upheaval, they are a gift.