In the Middle

Our village market.  I took this photo on our first day in China.

I had a dream before we moved to China.

We arrived and settled in our new apartment, and I flung open all the curtains.  Out the front of apartment was a stereotypical Chinese city scene – bustling, grimy, and raucous – bikes weaving between cars, sellers hawking their goods, the smell of street food mixing with exhaust and trash.  Overwhelmed, I looked out the windows in the back of the apartment and I was looking at a stereotypical American suburban scene.  Strip mall, rows and rows of gleaming SUVs in the parking lot, insular and quiet as all the people walked straight to their cars.  Heat rising off the black asphalt with the quiet roar of a nearby freeway turning the otherwise silence into white noise.  Comforted, I sat down in the middle of the room.

And I don’t know if I’ve ever left.

I always feel a little caught between two worlds.  It’s been a hard re-entry process, but I finally feel like I’ve found my feet and discovered my place.

The canal I walked beside every day.  I took this picture on one of my last days there.

And we’re going back.  (For a visit friends, not to live.)

In two months, my dear sister-in-law and I will bravely load up Cora and fly to China for a 10 day stay in the dusty, grimy, raucous village so close to my heart.  We will hold babies.  We will develop new products for Scarlet Threads, and we will try to manage a jet lagged toddler.

(Which, if I’m being honest, strikes fear to my very core.)

And I had another dream.

I dreamed I walked down the main street of that dusty, grimy, raucous village and it wasn’t.  The street had been widened and repaved.  The vendors were gone.  The traffic moved smoothly and in Western-logical-traffic patterns.  No horns.  No unmuffled engines.  No smells.

I woke up with a start and realized I was afraid.  The heavy feeling was dread.  I felt so sad.

What if everything has changed?  What if I don’t have a place anymore?  What if I go back and find myself overwhelmed by all that was once familiar?  What if the China-of-my-memory is not China-of-today? (A very reasonable concern; if you haven’t been there, you would not believe how quickly things change… whole villages razed in a single day.  Buildings constructed seemingly overnight.)  What if I’ve changed?  What if I get there and immediately can’t wait to come back home, to my comfortable little house – clean and sparkling with unheard of luxuries like bathtubs and electric dryers and dish-washers?

I know I need to do this.  I’ve spent a lot of time here in the middle… and I have this gut feeling that the more I live between the two worlds, the more I can make them one in my heart.  I know for a fact things have changed in the village, just as they’ve changed in me.  I know it won’t be “just like old times,” but I don’t really know what it will be – and I admit, I am scared.  I don’t want to overshadow my happy memories with a bad experience, nor do I want to disrupt my current settledness with a new desire to go back.  I have no idea how I will feel, and it scares me.

This is  a post without resolution.  Only a request.  Will you pray for me?  I’m very excited and very scared all at the same time.

8 thoughts on “In the Middle

  1. Praying! We have only been home a couple of months and re-entry has been very hard for us but I am just holding on to the hem of His robe:) I will be praying for all three of you….what a wonderful experience for Cora and I know your friends will be SO excited to see how much she has grown! I will be praying that you just soak it all in, that the familiar smells will be comforting to you and that you are able to breathe in each child and all of your friends and what you breathe in will last and stay with you a very long time. Love you my friend:)


  2. Count on my prayers. I totally get it. I think (after one year “home” from Hong Kong), I think I am finally finding my feet. My prayer continues to be that I will look back with gratitude vs. longing for more.


  3. Oh Carrie… I will absolutely be praying for you. I remember how I was a bit nervous visiting the village again before coming down south and I didn't live there nearly as long as you did! And honestly, it was different yet the same. Hard to explain.

    Will be praying for you!


  4. Oh Carrie I will be praying! I don't have near the life experience that these other commenters have! (Hi Kim, Kim, and Anneli!) BUT…I will pray for you! May your time be overflowing with sweet fellowship and may each moment be enjoyed to the fullest! I am SO excited for you and Cora!!!! Everyone will surely be enamored with your sweet little party girl!


  5. Carrie having just returned from a visit to China I know so well how quickly things change…at the same time your memories are still there. I will pray this trip gives you peace in your heart.


  6. I trust that God will order every footstep of this journey back, and give you that peace in your heart that joins your two worlds together as one. Surely there will be changes and battles of the heart in the midst of it all, but I trust you will walk away blessed. And I KNOW they will all be thrilled to see you again!! So much good advice from both Kims and Anneli… I will pray as they do… that you will just be able to soak it all in and treasure it like never before, so that you may look back on your time there with gratitude for all Ch*na gave to your life!

    Blessing & Hugs,


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