Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Longest Welcome Back Ever

When we paid a visit to the Marble Boat, just hours before boarding a plane to the America, it marked the end of what seemed to be a long goodbye to China. There were so many places we wanted to see one last time before we moved. And more importantly, there were so many people we had grown so attached to in such a short time of living in Beijing.

What we couldn't anticipate at that moment was that we were about to embark on a welcome back journey that would still be going on, several weeks after our arrival in the United States. Sure, we knew that there would be joyous family reunions and visits with good friends we had missed so much. And we all had visions of what it would be like to walk down the center aisle at St. Andrew's, all the way to our familiar front pew (which, by the way, was open and waiting for us).

What we didn't conceive of, though, was how all of this reentry would take place in drips and drabs. A person here. A place there. I think we all had kind of imagined one big "It's Great To Be Back!" moment, and then it would be life and business as usual.

The upside of this "long welcome home" is that we continually get to have these really, really happy encounters. People we haven't seen in a year, who we are delighted to be with once again, and who (thankfully!) are just as excited to see us. It feels great to have a smile on so much of the time! It is awesome to hear about where all of the kids have chosen to go to high school and about all of those family trips to places like the beach, Ireland, and Montreal. And, even though I know this is vain, it is nice to still stand out in the crowd a bit, to have people seeking you out for hugs, kisses, and conversation.

Now if we could just figure out how to give a decent answer to the"How was China?" question!

~Steve

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