From China Village

July 21, 2011
{My China Village home, decked out for the Fourth of July}

Some days, the name of this little blog drives me a little nuts. It make sense to me and probably people who know me and who know Maine, but I worry that it’s a hard to understand for people who don’t know me or haven’t heard of China Village. In fact, the most common question I get about my blog is what does the name mean?

I usually reply that it’s the name of the town where I grew up, but what I write and share and babble about here is more than just my little lakeside town. It’s hard to capture in a soundbite, but sometimes it pops up in moments and I think to myself, See? That’s why the name makes sense!

Last Saturday night, I had one of those moments. Michael was upstairs in my parents’ house in Maine trying to squeeze every last inch out of our suitcases to fit all the crazy things I insist on bringing back to Ireland with me. Band aids, boxes of macaroni and cheese, maps and mementos, artfully packed into every nook and cranny of our suitcases.

Meanwhile, I was having mini-meltdowns about leaving. It happens every time I go home. About two days before our flight back, it starts to hit me. A sense of panic, maybe a little impending separation anxiety.

{Don’t worry, when the final goodbyes are said and I’m sitting on the plane, I can usually turn off the homesickness, compartmentalize it until the next visit. I’m only homesick when I’m home. Or at least, so I tell myself.}

I stood in the kitchen on Saturday evening, misty eyes, and hugged my mom and dad. (Family hug was one of my favorite tricks when I was little. I still think it’s a pretty great trick.) I may have been whining, I never want to leave. I always want to stay in China Village.

My mom, small and strong and sweet, Don’t worry, we’re doing the best we can.

My dad, through manly, dad tears, squeezed me and said, It’s okay, we didn’t raise you to live your whole life in China Village.

A precious gift, given every visit. Permission to go, to thrive across the ocean, to be happy in a life that’s so far away.


{China Village in autumn, and my old car, the Blueberry. Still clunking along, boxy but good.}

On Monday evening, back in Dublin, I lay awake in the middle of the night, fighting through jet lag and over-exhaustion, thinking of those words. We didn’t raise you to live your whole life in China Village. I know they would love me just as much if I chose to stay; a few tears again.

And then it occurred to me. But they did raise me to live my whole life from China Village. I’m a product of that first home, of small town values and a close family, of learning how to make and do and try for yourself, and of squeezing the life out of every season as they each roll on by.

That’s what my blog is about. Hard to summarize, a little sappy and a lot cozy. Small town charm, dotted with some big city bits and pieces. But the name fits, so the name stays.

I’m crying as I write this. I think my dad’s probably crying as he reads it. My mom’s probably a little teary too, but she won’t be so quick to admit it. The apple doesn’t fall far from the little China Village family tree.




  • Reply Charlotte Brinkmann July 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Great post about China Village. Our heritage – family values, where we were raised and the people who have influenced us – all make us who we are. Your parents have done a great job in raising a daughter who values this.

    • Reply emily July 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

      Charlotte, thank you so much for your nice words!

  • Reply Misty July 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Oh Em! That was the best post yet, totally gave me goosebumps & made me teary eyed – as you so perfectly captured that forever struggle of being a young adult and leaving our “Maine Home” because no matter how old we are, leaving Maine is always a little bit hard, even when we love our new homes & lives so much! I love your writing & have loved following your blog! I will be one of the first to pick up your book someday when it finally makes its long awaited debut! 🙂

    • Reply emily July 22, 2011 at 9:40 am

      Misty, thank you so much for your comment! I loved hearing it was your favorite post yet, it may have been my favorite post to write. And glad to hear I’ll have at least one taker if I ever finish this book!

  • Reply Gerry July 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Right on all counts, Em. I guess it does take a village to raise a child. Nice when the child remembers that. We are the product of our past.

    • Reply emily July 22, 2011 at 10:02 am

      Or, as Michael says: You can take the girl out of China Village, but you can’t take China Village out of the girl.

  • Reply Katie July 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Sigh. This post really resonated with me.

    • Reply emily July 22, 2011 at 10:01 am

      🙂 Hugs from Dublin, Katie.

  • Reply lois July 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Great post. I’m glad I get to experience and share with what’s From China Village on a regular basis. Jerome

  • Reply Brandi {not your average ordinary} July 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Emily, this post is incredible. I got teary-eyed too. Your parents raised you well.

    (And I too am sometimes frustrated by the name of my blog — it’s so LONG.)

  • Reply Kristin July 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    As a fellow expat, I know just how you feel – this got me a little teary-eyed too!

  • Reply Mary Catherine July 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Oh, Emily! I am crying, too. I can hardly see what i am trying to type. What lovely thoughts, what a lovely person. I hope i can go see you sometime not too far away!

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  • Reply J. Allen January 8, 2012 at 2:01 am


    I grew up just a few doors down from you – and a few years ahead of you in that same small village.

    Haven’t been back to that side of the planet in nearly a decade, yet I’ve always kept a little bit of that place – that small town upbringing – with me.

    I’m sure something about the freedom and self-esteem we developed growing up there is a strong reason we were curious to explore the rest of the world as well.

    Being able to explore our “world” at the time – the lake in front, the woods and the cornfield behind us.

    Being able to develop socially – surrounded in a small village by friendly people who all knew each other… being able to find out everything that was going on by just visiting Jack’s store for a few minutes during the day.

    I may not have appreciated it at the time – but as I’ve gotten older and spent more time meandering around this planet – I’m more and more thankful of that upbringing in China Village as well.

    May your amazing journey continue.

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