So where do you live?
The instant message question that popped up on my phone seemed innocuous enough, but answering it seemed impossible.
Gee, I don’t know.
Physically, I’m in Chicago. Mentally, I’m anywhere but. I’m in Bangkok during yoga, I’m at a Chinese Market while chopping onions. I transport back to our slumpy dumpy house when I’m sleeping and battle Chinese traffic during my daily stroll.
I am anywhere but where the sign says:
Like Monday, an unseasonably warm day for Chicago. I walked down to the lake front, passing through Hobo Village under the Wilson viaduct to get there, smiling at a few prostitutes who have seen a better day, too.
I got on the bike path where cyclists whizzed past me like fireworks, working hard to burn off the muffins they mindlessly ate during stressful client meetings. But between the fitness ninjas, I’d flashback to the bike paths of Kunming, where I’d avoid speeding vendors carrying extra wide loads on their wheels.
My life is a Double Exposure, two worlds colliding. And the projector playing it in my brain is freaking out.
Trying to live in both worlds at once is impossible.
I don’t know which to focus on.
I turned around and walked down Wilson past the Upton Baptist Church (with the infamous CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS sign). But instead of seeing scruffy junkies waiting for a twelve step meeting, I see clean shaven monks dressed in orange shaking their heads.
What would they think of this neighborhood. Do we need their prayers more than they need ours?
I looked across the street to McDonald’s. There are gang bangers out front, flashing their signs. But my eyes play tricks on me. They see the Thai Ronald MacDonald with his hands in the”wai” greeting, tangled in Crime Tape.
I ask, Where am I? Where should I be?
So I keep walking to yoga, thankful that I no longer have to mentally translate downward dog from Mandarin to English, or am stared at for the limitations of my large Caucasian frame.
The young instructor guides me through a speed yoga session in a 105 degree room instead of a two hour practice in a Chinese studio with only space heaters. The humidity transports me to the streets of Bangkok, my nose mistaking the smell of sweaty feet with durian.
My mind craving a taste of it all.
Should I be there or here?
I leave yoga and walk past the street where I missed a shooting the day before. A kid fifteen years young killed during gang warfare, his death not worthy of a headline. Meanwhile, my mind travels to California where a friend lost his son , causing more tears than could fill an ocean.
Why isn’t he here, damn it? Where is the “there” that his soul traveled to?
I continue to walk down towards Addison, the view being a series of snapshots of my past and present. A small town girl moving here along in her twenties. My adventurous thirties. Settling down in marriage in my forties. Returning in my fifties, alone, my wedding vows being out of focus.
I make my way back to JPUSA and think of my double exposure accommodations. The Artsy rooming with the Fartsy. The Hairy living with the Scary. The living with the dying. The recovering with the relapsed. Then there’s me, Ms.None of the Above, sharing a small space with a seven foot marlin, struggling to find my identity like a contact lens on the carpet.
I spent the next few moments in prayer, asking my Creator for divine clarity.
Should I be in Asia or Uptown?
Solo or Married?
Work on my next novel or my resume?
Should I be asking God a gazillion questions or should I just be listening?
That requires me to stop worrying about what’s’ next, and just focus on the now.
To not be startled by the mess that I see, but having faith in what I don’t.
I’m still waiting for answers but I don’t think God is like a film processor lab, guaranteeing to deliver them in under an hour.
Instead, I’ll have to start looking at things with my ears.
I’ll have to trust that even when things aren’t clear to me, God has a perfect picture of what’s going on.