Friday, January 14, 2011 0 comments

Another Continent, Again

Hello, anyone who might see this even though I know my regular readers long ago gave up and quit checking this blog.  Sorry for the abrupt end to the blog in October; due to the internet restrictions in China I had a hard time getting this blog to work; I had to use various proxies and such just to see it--and then in October, even the proxies quit working.  And anyhow, November and December were incredibly busy, so I probably wouldn't have kept up too well anyways. 

Anyhow, I moved back to Tennessee, arriving on December 24.  I only signed a one-year contract when I moved to Jingzhou, and although I could have, I chose not to renew it.  If I was still single and unattached, I would have stayed in a heart beat.  I had a almost-too-good-to-be-true job, great friends, a fulfilling and challenging ministry, frequent access to Hot Pot, and great travel opportunities (and those of you who are also "vagabonds" who will go anywhere armed with only a backpack and walking shoes will understand what that means to me).  But I was 7735 miles away from BW.

If you've never had a long distance relationship, let me tell you that ten months on different continents is not easy on a relationship.  I think we did great all things considered: Skype is a blessing from God, even though the slightest problem with it could send me into an irrational meltdown.  We talked almost every day, for hours when we could.  We set our personal phone-call-duration record back in August: ten hours, forty-five minutes.  Impressed?  We were a bit impressed with ourselves.  Or maybe we're just nuts.  I'm pretty sure the proprietors of the bookstore/postcard stand/internet cafe I spent the day in thought we were.  I showed up about five minutes after they opened the doors in the morning (I stayed at a hotel just across the way) and sweet talked them into selling me a banana from their fruit smoothie stand.  It was a sunny morning in the quiet little capital city of Vientiane, Laos, for me, and at that time BW was working third shift, so he was used to being up all night.  So well talked all my day and all his night--and it's a good thing they caved on the banana, because that was all the food I had.  We held on to our electronic connection that day until they finally started giving me pointed looks as the minutes hand ticked on towards closing time. 

The point is, no matter how hard you work to keep a relationship good even over the miles, it will never quite replace sitting in the same car (or truck, as it may be) and looking each other in the eye as we talk.   It certainly can be difficult sometimes: imagine you need to point out something negative to your spouse/significant other.  If you are in the same room, you can temper what you say by touching their hand, or doing something nice for them, or showing through your body language how you feel.  When all you have is a phone connection, you can only be blunt.  Even more so, in fact, that in person, since the other person can't see how hurt or upset your are from your body language or expression.  Everything has to be put into words, words that sometimes hurt. So many things would would be better if you could just have a hug when you need it.  Maybe I'll write more some time on the ins and outs of loving someone from that kind of distance.

I don't regret having the experience of a long-distance relationship, though: I think we have surely learned not to take each other for granted.  I hope we don't forget that lesson too quickly.  So I moved back here to Tennessee.  My life in Jingzhou was good, but however long I stayed, it would never be anything more that a relatively short-term stop on my life journey.  BW, on the other hand, could well be part of my life forever, and it was time to come back here and spend time face to face while we figure out our future together. 

So I am here.  Funny, I just might end up the one place I never imagined I would: here in middle Tennessee, the place I put so much effort into leaving behind.