I once again find myself this night, like so many nights over the past year, not far away from a dying fire. But this night is different. We’re not out in the woods somewhere; we won’t be sleeping in a tent tonight; we won’t be biking long distances tomorrow morning; the fire is burning in a wood stove fireplace. We find ourselves this night in the warmth and comfort of a place I call home–Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
The past few days have seemed like a blur to me. In fact, ever since we arrived in the US things have started to blur. We have been blessed to see so many friends and share in so much generous hospitality as we moved closer and closer to arriving in Minneapolis Sunday afternoon that my memories are getting fuzzy edges, bleeding like watercolors into the promises and possibilities of the future. (”Did I see them or did I make plans to see them?”). And all of this kindness and attention culminated at an Edina church yesterday where parents, family, and friends gathered and spilled into the road with their encouraging applause, happiness, and relief as we rolled to what would be our official stop after 10,500 miles. It seemed everyone was talking at once, and there was chili, and lots of sweet crumbly and chewey baked items, and we talked to as many people as we could and felt a little dazed and played some songs, talked…
It’s quiet here now in Fergus Falls. I can hear the embers expanding their last heat with small cracking noises, and Nakia breathes easily in warm sleep on the couch. Did we really…? Did we really bike into the cold wind that turned to night and insistently pushed against us as we struggled up what we desperately hoped was the last hill on Saturday two hours after dark? Did we really bike into the streets of Paris, past the Notre Dame cathedral, under the Eiffel Tower less than a month ago? The same bike that now leans against the garage wall at 1010 Meadow Hill Lane, did it really climb mountains in Serbia? Of course yes, but the answer is not as simple as “yes we did.” The questions are a search for meaning in the jumble of hopes and realizations that make up the past year and a half, mixed with what came before– a tentative effort at coming to terms with time, and foreign experiences meeting familiar places — will they get along?
I’ve expected to have some culture shock; how will it come? We shall see. For now we shall push on with our plans to record music and prepare for some presentations. We have stopped our biking, but things have continued to pick up speed. Let the days come. It is necessary to be here, now.