Home from Indy

Why am I doing this? I wondered as I listened to my boots hitting the sidewalk.  I was cold and moderately lost, it was dark outside, and I was in Cleveland.  Maybe I should just call and say that I'm not coming after all.  So then I would have wasted $74 on bus tickets, but on the other hand, then I could spend the night in my nice warm bed instead of catching a few hours of sleep on a bus.

I backtracked and found the road that led to the Greyhound station.

I don't like traveling.

The sheer irony of that thought was almost enough to snap me out of my funk.  After all, I've traveled all over China.  I've taken buses, planes, trains, and some less-than-entirely-standard forms of transportation.  I've lived out of my backpack in Thailand.  I've had mostly good experiences and I get bored when I'm stuck in a place too long.  Yet being alone in an American city at night is enough to make me question myself.

Aha, Greyhound...

As I walked down the sidewalk towards the station, wiggling my toes to try to get some feeling back into them, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.

"Hello?"

It was my friend Rachy, the main reason that I was going to Indy.  She's on her way to Japan for a year.  We met under seemingly random circumstances in QinHuangDao, China, when I was teaching and she was a student.  On her way from Texas to Japan, she was stopping to visit another friend, and we had figured I might as well come too.  Confused yet?  Don't worry, there's no quiz.

She was calling to let me know that her bus was going to be late getting into Indy.  I sympathized, but there was really nothing that I could do about it, so after chatting for a few minutes, I went in and waited for my first bus to show up.

Greyhound bus stations, by the way, are -- in my experience -- equal parts creepy and intriguing.  Creepy because, well, they have terrible lighting and everyone is kind of cranky, and that's at the less creepy stations.  Intriguing because there are Amish people and a couple arguing in Mandarin and a guy who's confused and mostly speaks Russian.  And I find myself wondering about all of them.

My bus was on time, more or less.  I slept.  I hung out in another station and transferred buses and slept more.  I talked to my seat mate, who was on his way to nursing school in Wyoming.  Rachy and I texted each other a lot.  (At three in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.  At least we were both semi-awake!)

Eventually I got to Indy.

There was a lot of snow.

There were a lot of people in the bus station.

Does Tim know when I'm coming? I wasn't sure.  I thought I had mentioned it to him, but I couldn't remember if he was even in the state; probably something I should have checked on earlier.  I didn't see him immediately but my phone buzzed a few minutes later while I was washing my hands.  And you are...

I went back into the main area and poked him.  "Wo zai zheli!"  I'm here!

The next 40 hours were filled with meeting people, hanging out with people I had met last time I was in Indy, eating, playing games (ever heard of Tribond?  it was fun!), practicing shifting gears, a reunion with Rachy, getting to know another former CSP-er who's going with ELIC, watching a snowman be built (sort of), staying up late talking about...everything, driving through Indiana, watching The Soong Sisters, swapping stories of China.  There was sign language, Spanish, and of course Chinese.

All too soon, it was time to get on my bus and come back to Cleveland.  Tears, hugs, goodbyes.  Things that make my heart feel stretched and worn.  I don't think that goodbyes really get easier for me with the passing of time.

But you know what?  It's worth it.

It's worth it because two days is a lot of time to make memories.

It's worth it because this was the time that I had a chance to actually see these friends.  I don't always.

It's worth it for the new friends.  For the laughter.  For the stories.  For the chances to relax and fellowship and to create new memories.

It's worth it because, hard as goodbyes are, they are a cleaner and healthier kind of hard than the regrets that come with not showing that I care.

It's worth it because God has been good and richly blessed me with brothers and sisters all over the world

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