I went to the beach this weekend… and it was really nice: A miniature city just for tourism, humidity thicker than Houston, Texas, flat, open, sandy beaches, with huge, curling waves- water stretching for miles until it touched the clouds. My neighbor and I played that slug bug/punch buggy game, but the tourist edition. We dressed up, and went out to a fancy dinner, we stayed in a little surf camp hotel, aimed at backpackers and surfers (obviously) that had a community kitchen and a library of travel books to share. (And a dog named Teo who guarded the pool.) At the beach, we laid on a blanket on the sand, and waited until the uncomfortable feeling of doing nothing, turned into the comfortable feeling of relaxing and contemplating God’s creation. There were a few things I didn’t enjoy- think, “tourism, money, and the white man,” (to be discussed later if interested) and, “European swim fashion,” (‘nough said here,) but a lot of things I did enjoy.
I’m so thankful I had the chance to get away for a weekend. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to relax, and enjoy getting to know my friend better- to find freedom, and independence, and learn, and watch, and observe, and participate. But there was something else that I really loved too. And maybe all of you who’ve had the privilege of living in the same house for more than 4 months, or the same country for more than 10, would take this for granted, but… there’s something so special about going “away,” and having a place to come “home,” to.
There’s something so special about coming home to hear your cat crying like you’ve been gone for a year, or having someone text you while you’re away, saying, “oh hey, are you coming to church tonight?” There’s something so special about knowing the kids in Sunday school and asking about them by name, to see if they had a good day or a hard one while you were gone- something so special about your heart being moved to hear that Q was a good helper, or A had a rough day, but E participated so well. There’s something so special about feeling like, “finally, I think I really do love these kiddos, even though sometimes I want to smack them!” Maybe being “away,” we recognize how much we actually do “belong,” in the places we normally are.
And I’ll tell you for sure, NEVER in my almost 10 months of being here, have I ever enjoyed the familiar, domestic, simple, boring, mundane, “I’m the only foreigner here,” 30 minute walk to work, as much as I did this morning. I felt a silent, glowing, bubbling, joy my whole walk. The familiar smell of cold rain, garbage (trash day), and car fumes, mingled with a variety of perfumes and colognes, made me smile as I felt so at home. The bumpy sidewalks never made me so appreciative. Knowing I could see familiar faces, or that a coworker had just moved in somewhere around where I was walking, reminded me that I’m not alone- I have community around me. And maybe this all makes sense… This “familiar” made me feel like maybe, just maybe, I belong… The quiet drizzle and moisture in the air brought a muted, pensive environment- and a hint of excitement for the things to come.