The Space Between

In a lot of ways, the transition back to living in Raleigh is very similar to our time of transition to Beijing. We are rediscovering Raleigh with a new perspective. Looking for the best sushi and Chinese restaurants, finding our favorite outdoor spaces, experiencing moments of dismay or confusion when a business has closed (Locopops) or moved. Getting together with friends and family. We are re-connecting with our house. I am trying to make it a home again. I have not started hanging pictures or art on the walls because it is a chance to make changes, and this is really exciting. The girls have grown up a bit. My youngest daughter doesn’t need toddler items in her room anymore. It needs to be made into a little girl space. My older daughter needs a space to express her changing personality.

We are in “a space between”. We have arrived. We are far from settled in. We await our “stuff” that is traveling across the world by boat and plane to come back to us. For the girls, their bedrooms don’t feel “theirs” yet. We sleep in “rental beds” and use “rental pillows” and “rental plates”. Its not quite a comfortable feeling. Our house is somewhat hotel, somewhat home.
I am not rushing this time of settling in. I am taking time each day to NOTICE the sky. The beautiful sky that for so many days was gray and oppressive in Beijing. I have started a 30 day(maybe more) photography project with my sister to capture the subtle changes in the clouds, color, and light of the sky. Here are some of my favorites:

Wrightsville Beach Intercoastal
Wrightsville Beach Intercoastal

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See more on my instagram account at namaste_75.

I have found that I am not as “attached” to material things as I once was. I know that there is a chance that all of my “stuff” could be lost or damaged at sea. I am not even too attached to this house anymore. The important thing to me is that I am with my family and we make our home where we are. My roots have grown deep into the earth, and have spread to the other side of the world.

My repatriation to the US: Week 1

It has been almost seven days since we’ve been back in Raleigh. We had some good and bad luck in Beijing during the last couple days. The good luck was that we were able to check thirteen bags without occurring any extra fees!!! The bad luck was that our youngest daughter had a fever the last couple days and we had to treat her with fever reducer throughout the entire fourteen hour flight back. She was fine once we got here.

First impressions of the US:

Clean

Lots of overweight and obese people

BLUE SKIES: I will never take this for granted again!

Crisp looking air

Perfect strangers feel they can make comments or ask about your personal business. No offense taken, I was just surprised.

The flight attendants on the flight back were really rude/impatient towards the Chinese people. I was ashamed for them, and sad that this is the impression they made to people that could be visiting our country for the first time.

The hotel we stayed in smelled like bleach. You don’t smell bleach much in China.

Wide roads, no litter, lots of green grass

BIG cars

Last night was the first night that my youngest slept through the entire night. This is significant progress! We’ve stopped taking jet lag naps, and are trying to push through the afternoon. My brain fog is starting to lift. Not without an embarrassing moment earlier in the week, when I was to meet my friend Veda at a coffee shop and went to the wrong one! It wasn’t until I was sitting at the table waiting for my food when I looked at the window and saw the name of the place that it clicked. Luckily for me, she just laughed. We’ll try again next week.

Another observation that I had today is that American men feel they have the right to leer at women. I have the right to dress as I please, without feeling like the man behind me is undressing me in his mind. I never felt this AT ALL in China. Men do not do this.

The cultural attitude towards children is very different in China. Children are precious. Adults who are single, married, old, or young love children and believe that you are so lucky if you have one. If you have two or more, then you are truly blessed. Today I was at a casual dining restaurant where you order out of a case and a line forms behind you. Of course, when you are getting over jet lag, making decisions at 5:30 pm is not easy. Any family in this situation takes a bit of time to get the orders in and the needs of each person met. So I was a bit offended when one person in a childless couple said to the other, “I’m just waiting for these people to get out of the way.” It took a lot of strength to ignore that and move on.

Brian and I had lunch at a casual shopping plaza Chinese restaurant today. We’ll keep trying. If you have suggestions for us for the best Chinese in the RDU area, we’d appreciate that. I’m really looking forward to shopping for ingredients at the Asia Market and cooking my own dishes.

The girls are getting adjusted to the house again. My little one woke up this morning and said she loves the house. It was like Christmas in July as we opened some boxed toys that they hadn’t seen in a year. I have been slowly opening up the boxes of things we left behind. It’s tiring. Some things I’m already putting aside for my Fall Yard Sale.

One of the best things about being back is seeing family and our dog. We have a lot of catching up to do! Skype doesn’t compare to getting a real hug or having my dog snuggle up.

I got behind the wheel of a car again this week. WOW! What independence! I love it! We had to remind my eldest to shut the car door, because there is no driver to come behind her.

I really missed American music too. There was one radio station that played Western music, and you had to use a VPN to listen to Pandora. (Facebook too)

Oh, I can’t believe I forgot to mention using my cell phone on a 4G network and having instant access to google from my phone. What a concept! Using the internet with a FAST connection. I actually had two phones in China: my US phone, which I carried around in case of a US family emergency, and my Chinese cell phone, which had horrible texting capability and would lock up or turn off unexpectedly. Brian got really good at interpreting my garbled texts over the last twelve months.

Its good to be back!