Dear friend, Dear partner, Dear companion, Dear family,
The winds here in Augusta, Georgia are blowing with warmth once more. I hope wherever this email-doodle-letter finds you, you are doing well. It's now mid-March. Almost three months have passed since the last time I wrote. I might as well make these quarterly updates (I think all of this company-speak is getting to me).
I'm doing well. Complexly, fully, weirdly, wonderfully well.
I sit here in the back-room of my favorite coffee shop, close my eyes and type. In 2 more months, I'll have been based back in this peach-blossomed southern home of mine for a full year.
And I've fallen in love with my home town.
So wrapped in this letter will be something of a love-dedication to the south: as familiar and exotic to me as the taste of sweet tea and pecan pie.
Jan-Feb in Augusta (Partial narrative of the doodle above)
I returned to Augusta at the tail end of November after a wonderful work/visit trip that took me in a whirlwind from a small Welsh mining town to lush green Devon - a quick jaunt past bustling Cardiff and a week long rest in London. A few days were stolen to visit an old lover: the city of lights who will forever hold a piece of my heart.
London, Paris, and places I've yet to visit... je t'aime.
(But really, I love the people you hold even more)
Friends on the "other" side of the pond - I'm very glad we got to see each other again.
Yet as much as I loved traveling -- have always loved traveling -- I was happy to be home again. The journey of discovery, Marcel Proust wrote, is not about discovering new landscapes. Rather, it is learning to see with new eyes.
And oh-what-Augusta holds, for a fresh pair of eyes:
The Augusta of 2014 is the place where I started painting again. It's the home where I began scribbling, in stolen moments and minutes, whirling stories of Chinese myths which percolate in my mind - a melodic blend of English and Chinese. It's the home of musicians, of poets, of painters and of dancers. A place where country music plays not only the radio but also at the dance hall which has quickly become my weekend home. It's a place where boots stomp and spin, kicking up dust and powder on the wood-lined floor. It's a place where I can whirl and twirl under colorful lights, two-stepping and swinging away to my hearts content. Truth be told, I'm even looking forward to the thick yellow layer of pollen (which will be blanketing our Garden City very soon) -- because this means Augusta is about to bloom into spring.
There's were two songs, both from Lady Antebellum, which featured high on my playlist last year in Beijing. One was "Home is where the Heart is". The other? Heart of the World
Both new country songs are fairly liberal with romance brushed on syrupy sweet. But there was something about these songs... or perhaps they simply plucked a heart-string of longing within my chest.
"Love is the heart of the world" - the singers croon.
Why yes it is. But not just romantic love. It's the love of droplets of fresh rain lain delicately upon spider webs, it's the love of pale moonlight painting your pillow case. It's the feeling of coffee warming your hands as you and an old friend bend and conspire over Halloween plans ... and it's the smell and sound of food stir-frying in the wok.
"Mama said home is where the heart is - when I left that town"
... the song continues.
Light, sweet and easy. Piano keys laced with the strumming of a guitar. My dreams haven't shifted gears - I'm still working on them with all my might (more about this below). But more and more, the south is beginning to feel like home. And when I leave Georgia next - even if it's for a few short months - I'll sure to be humming "I left my heart in Georgia…"
Because Georgia now has a piece of my heart.
Perhaps I should be worried, if I keep giving pieces of this heart away to each place I call home. But I'm not worried at all. Sounds sappy - but a heart can grow. And I hope this doodle-email (or letter- for those of you I'm snail mailing this too) carries a bit of my heart to you.
Love from Augusta, Georgia
Post script (thematic) updates
for those of you with a bit more time on your hands and would like to keep reading!
Beautiful Lives Project
Duke Women's Forum (February 2014)
Next steps forward (April, May-July)
April 9th -- April 19th
I return to Beijing! Mainly for leg 2 of the FACES conference (held this year in partnership with the Beijing University and Renmin University). Very excited to be back and to see old co-workers and friends.
April 20ish (time zones get wonky) -- Early May.
Back in the states. Briefly! Before zipping back to China for a summer job:
...will be spent mostly in Zhuhai, China, where I'll be the onsite coordinator for Duke Engage Zhuhai - working with Professor Hsiaomei Ku. Arts, education, working with motivated (and talented) undergraduates in an educational setting… while building bridges and community management experience for my career at Bottlerocket. Couldn't have asked for a better job.
Back to the states. Georgia, I'm coming home to you!
And that's all folks! For those of you who stuck with me, another big round of hugs and love from Linda.