We will pack a mental picnic
for years before we go.
Some will say the sky’s the limit,
but we will answer: No,
the mind was made to travel.
So, too, indentured hearts,
and knitted fears unravel
with adventure in the dark.
- “Come Picnic on Mars”
The magic of having real bread with real-ish butter and jam is diminished slightly by the ants I’m having to pick out of every bite. But only slightly.
Ya le (whatevers). I’m eating it anyway.
I’m happy in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. I’m happy because of the people that I was afraid of coming home to.
…but I guess I’d forgotten how sweetly my parents can love.
I guess I forgot the comfort in having my older sister near.
I forgot that home is always where they—my dad, mom, and Grace—are.
Honestly, I’m ashamed by how negatively I viewed them at times. From a million miles away in Laos, it was easy to label their telling me to come home as overprotectiveness, even selfishness. Now, I see my mom’s tears up close. I see my dad’s smile, hear my sister’s laugh… Now, I find myself being the selfish one.
I want it all. I want it all.
I want my dad’s hugs.
I want my mom’s late night conversations.
I want to be a part of Grace’s first year of marriage.
I want to exist in their lives as more than a picture and faraway voice.
I don’t want to leave them. I don’t want to put them on the back burner again. It sounds so dramatic, but you don’t know the closeness of our family. Grace and I would often say that, whether it’s good or bad, we breathe together. And I’m pitching myself outside of that and to the other side of the world. And they have no say in the matter.
Being here, being home, I’m happy. And I’m sorry to everyone and everything that I’m choosing to forgo. I’m sorry.
It’s bewildering to feel how quickly America sinks right back in.
It’s almost as though Laos never happened.
I wish I wasn’t typing these words.
But they’re truthful words, and I can’t say anything but.
It seems odd that just 3 days ago (or is it 2? I’ve lost track of time), I was standing under an narrow eave next to my friend and his motorbike, shivering, laughing, waiting for the monsoon to pass.
A week ago, I was skipping barefoot between the three houses we shared. My new best friends, now safely tucked into their respective states and provinces. I miss them so much, it hurts.
A week ago, I was eating with my fingers and laughing over rotten fish sauce, and perching precariously on the backs of motorbikes.
Now I’m in America, smack in the middle of big box Sacramento. Wearing a new dress that falls above my knees. Wedged in between (with adequate personal space) people all with headphones plugged tightly in their ears. The sun is so bright. The air is so clear. The people are so tall and beautiful. I’m even wearing earrings.
Such a stark contrast, yet it feels like I hardly skipped a best. I’m using American money like it’s no big deal. In Laos, the money I spent today equates to approximately how much I’d use in 2-3 weeks. I’m driving my car at 70 MPH and changing lanes like your everyday California driver. I’m not smiling as much—it’s a bit of a bummer if you’re the only one who’s smiling.
It almost disturbs me that culture shock hasn’t happened in a greater way. I’m not falling into puddles of tears. I’m not gasping over price tags. I’m not slipping into Lao-speak.
I just miss it, you know? I miss the hugs and the smiles and the harsh bouncy language and the babies hugging my neck. I even miss the humidity. I just miss it all.
I’m here in the States and I’ll enjoy it and “be here” for as long as I’m here. But maybe, in the long term future, here is not my “here.” Does that make sense?
Maybe dusty, littered streets are my place.
Maybe weathered, leathered faces are my people.
Maybe in the past year, God showed me the rest of my life. Or at least a small part of it.
I don’t know. Maybe.
"God is neither hard hearted not soft minded. He is tough minded enough to transcend the world; He is tender hearted enough to live in it.
He does not leave us alone in our agonies and struggles. He seeks us in dark places and suffers with us and for us in our tragic prodigality.”
It begins with this question: How can love be my language?
Because these are the moments that will count when my eyelids are wrinkled and my arms are weak:
Prolonged conversations when hearts are thudding over bared feelings and dreams.
Bumpy bus rides to places dusty and unfamiliar.
Drinking the rain.
Breathing in the soft scent of children who’ve fallen asleep with their arms wrapped around my neck.
Those brief and precious frames of life when everything is simpler and somehow realer than most of the rest of my life.
When everything makes more sense. When honesty, purpose, and action align and, for a moment, my eyes lose their shadows and focus in on what truly matters.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the things I likely will not dwell on in the end: Money and my resume.
If I think about it now, I don’t want anything more than I want love. Nothing is more important. I just want love. (Is that too radical?) I want it in all of me, tracing itself in my footsteps, on the people, and in the places I come to know throughout the rest of my life.
No matter who you are, where you live, what you look like, what you believe—I want you to feel and believe that I truly love you. And through that unmistakable love, I want you to know that Jesus loves you with the most gorgeous, the most perfect love.
I’m not there yet. Not even close.
My harshness with those closest to me. My impatience with the faultless. My quickness to defend. The way I dwell so relentlessly on my insecurities. How quickly I allow emotions to make the big decisions for me. All of these make me cringe in retrospect.
Despite this, here is yet another thing that matters more—
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
I’ve done a number on myself with my short life already. Layers upon layers of brittle hurt and anger, He’s painstakingly rubbed out from inside my skin. It’s a long, painful, two-steps-forward-one-step-back process, but the change is visible.
Hallelujah, for He is faithful. And someday, hopefully soon, I’ll learn to speak with the language of love.
like, 93% humidity, sweaty armpit hot,
and yet i’m all wrapped up in a sheet, from neck to toe, and the mosquitos are still managing to find a way to snuggle up to me. in three hours, i’ve got a bite on my butt and a bite on my thigh and a bite on my left pinky toe and a bite on my right heel and a bite on my right big toe.
it’s been at least six new bites a day.
whatever. i’m past the point of excessive complaining. i just want to say, i hate you mosquito. you useless creature that i’m too helpless to do anything about except pathetically say i hate you. BLAH. seriously. i hate you.
(thanks leah for being the inspiration for this rant.)