Welcomed

Well, I’ve been here for almost a week now (minus about nine hours at the moment) and I’m starting to get settled. I have found a cafe with sufficiently reliable internet for video Skype, which is reassuring because it means I can carry on tutoring – the library’s internet is so appalling I can’t even send emails. I have organised my little nest in the eaves of the house, and made friends with a few of the neighbourhood children, which hopefully might turn into a source of occasional baby-sitting income. I’ve found a church which is a fifteen minute cycle ride away, on a bike borrowed from Edith’s landlady. It is a fixed-gear bike with coasting brakes, which took some getting used to – pedalling backwards to stop is not something that comes intuitively to me!

The people at the church were incredibly welcoming when I went yesterday morning. All the churches we visited on the choir tour were thrilled to have us, but I hadn’t expected such a warm welcome when I turned up as an unknown congregation member. At least a dozen people came to welcome me, and every single one of them asked why I would leave England during the Olympics. Apparently it’s a huge deal over here! One lady offered to take me to the ballet, another said I should call her and we could have lunch with her midwife, and everyone seemed thrilled to have a strange English girl turn up out of the blue. I was asked to carry the Communion wine up to the altar, which is an honour they grant to visitors and new members apparently. I also made instant friends with a little girl who turned eight two months ago, and who looks about five. We bonded over the fact that everyone thinks we’re younger than we are – I was IDed to eat pizza on Wednesday. I hadn’t realised you had to be 21 to do that…
On Saturday Edith and I drove up to Michigan to visit a friend from the forum we originally met through, who lives in a lovely house on the lakeside in the middle of an Amish community. He was a very interesting man who I believe is in his early seventies; we’re planning on visiting again this weekend with a few other friends. I might take the opportunity, finances permitting, to head on to Chicago for a night to see Stumo, who is coincidentally spending a few weeks in the States in August. Perhaps this time I’ll enjoy Chicago a bit more than last time I was there – Stumo, if you suggest spending four hours in American Apparel and Urban Outfitters I will abandon you without a flicker of guilt.

Well, I’ve been in this cafe for two and a half hours so it’s probably time to head home for lunch and to take the dog for another wander. My exciting plans for the afternoon include uploading some photos (I promise! I have been hopeless at photos but there are lots of them coming soon) and reorganising the kitchen cupboards. I’m really enjoying actually having a kitchen which stays clean when I clean it and isn’t full of other people’s dirty dishes. I also need to re-read my draft email to the prisons I’m hoping to visit for my dissertation; I’m putting off sending it because I’m terrified of miswording it and ruining my chances, but I need to get a move on because I’m only here for another month and a half.

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