I’ve lamented not traveling this summer, but as the summer continues, and winds down, I can say quite happily I do not regret it. I’ve had an amazing time this summer, which I’ll write about more in the upcoming weeks, and incident after incident has reaffirmed that staying here was the right thing to do.
For instance I ran into someone from the town I grew up in, which still kinds of blows my mind. (Whenever I tell someone about it the first thing they say is, “It’s fate! You should get married.” I tell them I moved halfway around the world to get away from my hometown, there’s no way I’d marry someone from there. Ha.) And I’ve been seeing my former students on a regular basis. We’ve continued our bi-weekly get togethers and we just hang out, talk, laugh and have so, so, so much fun.
And yesterday another amazing thing happened. Two of my worlds collided when Wendy, a former student of mine, went to Peterborough, my hometown, and got to see my town, walk the streets and meet my friends.
Wendy has shown up a number of times on this blog starting way back in 2009. (She’s the one sitting to my right in the first picture. With the white jacket.) She’s also in the pictures of my first post about my students, and was the one responsible for the best surprise I’ve ever pulled off. I don’t have a blog entry about it, but on my first birthday in China she also made a special shirt for me with all of her classmates pictures on it. Everyone got one and we wore them to my birthday party. She was one of my very first students and one I have gotten to know well over the years.
Wendy has been in America for the past several years, first finishing her bachelors and then her masters, and I haven’t seen much of her. But with the magic of Wechat we’ve managed to stay in touch over the years. Not more than a few months goes by without us checking in with one another.
So I wasn’t too shocked to get a text from her the other day that said, “Guess where I am?” But I was shocked by her answer, “Jaffrey, New Hampshire.”
Jaffrey is right next to my tiny hometown of Peterborough, NH (pop 6,000). Wendy was at my hometown! I had no idea she was planning this and couldn’t believe it. A mutual friend, who met her through Facebook, offered to take her out for the day and show her around.
Despite the time difference and the thousands of miles separating us, she took me along with her. She started with pictures at breakfast at a local diner, and continued with pics of the familiar buildings of my hometown, and best of all…my friends! I stayed up till after 1am, but it was worth it. Wechat has a feature where you can record your voice and sent it immediately. (Like a walkie-talkie feature.) So I got to hear my friends and they got to hear me.
My one friend Liz, who is my former boss and surrogate mom, and I keep in touch because we play Words with Friends. We don’t talk a lot, but you can send messages along with your game play and we keep each other abreast of our lives. We play 2 games simultaneously and one game she hasn’t played a move in days.
“Play your move in words with friends!” I said over Wechat.
“I played it already,” she replied.
“I just checked, it’s been 6 days and you haven’t played it.” (The other game we play daily.)
“Let’s have an argument about Words with Friends across the world,” she replied dryly. That’s Liz alright.
I went to bed soon after, but Wendy had a busy day meeting people, taking pictures and having fun which I got to see when I woke up the next day. (Damn the 12-hour time difference!)
These kinds of things, two of my worlds colliding, just blows my mind. My ex used to always say “one more year, then we’ll go back to America,” which always made me feel like I could never settle and accept my life here as I always had one foot out the door. I don’t know how many years I’ll be in China, but I know right now I have no plans to leave. It’s more than just a excursion or a sabbatical, It’s become a permanent thing.
My old life and new have few few connecting threads, which is a relief in a way, but also a shame. So I like when the threads connect and two parts of my life find each other without me. It makes me feel like there is a little magic in the world and we are connected in ways you can never guess or expect.