Our First Day Back

It’s nine o’clock in the evening here in Bloomington and, well, it’s still evening: it’s not yet night. I am sitting out on our apartment’s balcony listening to cars rush by on Highway 46 and birds sing a last night time song. A slightly cool breeze pushes on my left side on occasion. And it is still bright enough to watch people pass on the paths below.

Our first full day back and we enjoyed it in a very relaxed fashion. I did a quick second grocery shop accompanied by Jane Beck, and I returned to find Lily and Yung in one of the many play yards that literally surround Campus View apartments. Lily was playing with a much younger boy whose father spoke to him softly in Russian as well as in English, as if helping him transition into the second language.

After lunch and a bit of rest, we launched on a long walk around campus, walking down Tenth Street to the library and then winding past the theater to Ballantine Hall before stopping off in the Indiana Memorial Union for some refreshment and (more) rest in front of the hospitality fire that has been burning in the IMU since 24 November 1939.


Lily in front of the hospitality fire in the IMU.

We walked back following the branch of the Jordan River that passes behind the Lilly Library, coming up to Showalter Fountain again and then through the pedestrian walkway that was a street while we were at IU:


I think both Yung and I expected to feel some stronger set of emotions than we did. I don’t think either of felt nostalgia or haunted by our walks around campus. It was simply pleasant. Perhaps Lily diverted us too much to be focused on re-living moments. All we knew was that we were on a beautiful campus, a true university campus, and that we knew our way around. Sure, we wished ourselves on the campus. Who wouldn’t? A library so well stocked. A campus so well imagined. And so many events going on every single day.

Perhaps the clincher for us came at the close of the day, when we visited the small library on the first floor of our apartment building. After I read Lily a few books, she wanted to spend some time drawing, where she was joined not by one but by two other girls, both of whom were also Chinese and who were spoken to in Chinese by their mothers. You could sense that Lily felt a sense of wonderment at being surrounded by people who looked like her, instead of being the only Chinese child in the room.

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