Returning from the Deep (I hope)

by Tatiana Luna

“I have not written for months, and I am sorry I have been so out of touch,” is the worst way to begin a blog entry.

I just read my first blog entry from way back in September, and it both surprised me and seemed to speak prophetically about my daily frustrations with my life here.  On the surface, it seems that the “fabric of my everyday life” is the same as when I first started acclimating to Chinese domestic life, except that I am totally accustomed and thus bored to hell with it.  And yet the same challenges and frustrations that I expressed in that first optimistic entry present themselves to me still.  Have I met my challenge of overcoming the typical role of housewife?  I am certainly something altogether different from what I was at the start, and the word “housewife” doesn’t concern me anymore.  But there is certainly more work to be done in making the most of a work-free, school-free life.

The theme of my experience living in China this second time has been disillusionment and isolation mixed with bursts of insight and inspiration. I had stars in my eyes the first time I came to China: I saw beauty in difference, I felt something strangely wistful in antiquity, and I felt fascination with poverty, even as I felt discomfort. I quite rightly felt the weight of China’s history and beauty in its traditions, especially as embodied in its architecture. The language began to open up to me and thus people also.  It is not that these experiences are dried up for me.  But I have certainly not had enough of them to maintain my inspiration for living here.  My eyes do not have that same glaze on them of pursuing a romantic adventure in a foreign land where I do not really need to ever feel at home, because I know I am “returning” to that home in a few months. Before I went to study in China, and this time I came to live with my family, and the difference has been profound.  My questions have changed with my eyes.  And I am even more certain than before that I do not have a home.

It feels terrible and impossible for me to bring anyone reading up to date and fill in the last 8 months of my life in your minds with an itinerary and over-generalizations that I will later regret setting into words at all.  I have been writing sporadically on a variety of topics the past few months as my family and I have been journeying in new territories, and there are scores of photos to be put up on flickr.  I hope to refine and reveal these tidbits, and I hope some of my experiences will slowly coalesce into some clearer picture of…what I cannot tell.