There are times when I am reminded that I am not so tightly woven into the fabric of Shanghai. It is deceptive, in a way, because I found niches into which I easily fit virtually upon arrival. I stitched myself into this new life, and I loved it. I do love it, and I have nothing but deep hope and conviction that it will only get better, but there are times when I realize how hasty my stitching job truly was; times when Shanghai looks at me, and in that momentary, passing glance, I realize we don’t know each other as well as I imagine we do.
It had to be hasty, when I stitched myself in. It must be, when we first arrive in a new chapter. The relationship will deepen, and I will be woven tighter and tighter until this new city is a part of me… but we are not there yet. You get tightly woven when it is not only your stitches which hold you to the fabric, but also the stitches of your friends weaving you into their lives, and the slow stitches of the city itself working you into its folds, until it all becomes an inseparable part of you. Naturally, I hope for something quick – of course, we long for that connection that tells us we are in some small piece of home. In a new setting we seek to acquire it as quickly as we can. But it can’t be a quick process – it shouldn’t be, else those blessed connections to people and places would lose their value, which they hold precisely because they are not easy to form or easy to come by; they represent something of an investment of the heart.
It would be interesting to see our quilts; which cities would be emblazoned upon them, whose faces, which experiences? If we could see all that which has been such an integral part of our story*, those things tattooed upon our hearts, those places and faces and times which shaped us and pointed us forward, what would it look like? Mine would consist of College Station, Nuevo Laredo, Buenos Aires, Allen; the faces of my loved ones, faithful companions, their love a constant warmth, in seasons past, present, and to come; stories and quotes and songs which have become part of my journey; adventures and roadtrips and backyard campfires and all the dear memories that bring smiles to our faces on sunny mornings when we walk outside and the breeze blows fair against our backs and we know that there has never been a day like today, and never will be again.
For the beautiful things to grow they must first be planted and nurtured. It’s all a necessary part of the process, the rhythm. (I am very new to all of this, you see; my eyes are wide, and I am taught at all corners. I know very little, and what I know today, tomorrow I will realize was even less still!)
And then, in the midst of it all, there are nights when recently-introduced friends unknowingly and unexpectedly bring to your attention the bright, clean new stitches hugging you to your fabric.
I am… happy? Content? Blessed. I am blessed. If you would like to know why, please refer to my metaphorical quilt, where you will most likely find your face. Yes, you, reading this. If you aren’t sure if you made the cut, ask me, and I’ll check.
Here’s to the wind blowing fair wherever it finds you!
*God, my author, my wonder; it is your love that convinces me that this life is a story worth seeing through, a story which is the fount of joy – I never knew light till I saw it in you! Compared to you and your love, my story is banal, and I as a main character am quite unengaging; replace my story with yours. I am a quiet wisp of melody, written by you, created to be part of your symphony; alone have I sung in vain, dusty and out of place, but in losing myself, surrendering to your conduction, I become who I was meant to be, part of your chorus of joy, my notes clear for the first time, in color, eyes focused on you, heart burning…!