Yep, home home.
It seems like just last week I was hanging off the back of a motorbike in Vietnam hopped up on way too many cups of Vietnamese coffee.
Errm, probably because that was last week.
(By the way, guys, I went to Vietnam! I know. I totally meant to tell you all about it on this here blog. But, you see, the funny thing about writing about traveling is that it’s really hard to do when you’re actually, you know, traveling. Especially for me as I am supremely bad at any kind of multi-tasking. I’m not even really capable of thinking and talking at the same time. So, yeah, traveling and writing is pretty much beyond me. No matter how many cups of crack-filled coffee I’ve consumed.)This is my first time back in the States in over a year and a half – the longest time I’ve ever spent away from home without so much as a visit.
I even got a bit teary-eyed when the customs officer at the Detroit airport welcomed me home on Monday.
I blamed it on the fact that I had only gotten about twenty minutes of sleep during the fourteen-hour flight from Hong Kong. You see, I was on one of those planes where everyone gets their own personal video screen. And every time I get my own personal video screen, I feel like it’s some kind of challenge. Like the video screen is personally daring me to WATCH ALL THE MOVIES. But, because I’m delirious and seriously sleep-deprived and all the movies seem to include the same cast of actors, everything just blurs together in my head into one really long movie that stars Jennifer Aniston and that guy from The Office and doesn’t make any kind of sense.
But, the truth is, I missed this place.
Even if I was a bit worried about coming home.You see, I thought it would feel really weird being back again after being gone so long.
I imagined myself fumbling along in wide-eyed wonder staring in awe at the marvels of the Western world — like toilets that can flush toilet paper.
I figured I’d be like one of those movie characters who’s been raised by wolves or apes and is introduced to modern society as an adult. Except in my imagined scenario I was raised by something a bit milder like possums. And even though I’d find myself instantly charmed by the wonders of the modern world like cable TV and hot fudge sundaes, I’d occasionally revert to my wilder ways and play dead when I wanted to get out of talking to people I didn’t like.
Where was I, again?
Oh, yes, I thought returning home would feel weird.
But, you know what?
It hasn’t really felt weird at all.
I do occasionally have to remind myself where I am and that, yes, I can drink the water directly from the tap and not have to worry about losing an intestine or growing a third eye.
Yet, overall, it feels pretty normal being back.When I finally made it to the Buffalo airport late Monday afternoon, some twenty hours after leaving Asia, I was greeted by my parents, my five-year-old niece, my seven-year-old nephew and some seriously awesome pom-pom art.
If there is anything awesomer than being greeted in the airport with pom-pom art, I really don’t know what it is.
During the drive back to my parent’s house, my niece and nephew fired questions at me. Which went something like this:
Them: Did you like China, Aunt Sally?
Them: Aunt Sally, are you coming to swimming class tomorrow?
Me: Umm, what?
Them: How long are you going to be home, Aunt Sally?
Me: I’m not sure.
Them: Hey, Aunt Sally, are you coming to swimming class tomorrow?
Me: Umm, maybe?
Them: When you were in China, did you eat insects, Aunt Sally?
Me: No. But I did eat snails when I was in Vietnam.
Them: EWWWW! Aunt Sally ate snails! Are you coming to swimming class tomorrow?
Me: YES. Okay. I’ll go to your swimming class.
Them: Aunt Sally, Aunt Sally, Aunt Sally!
Them: Did you really eat snails?
After they ran out of questions, they began singing the woodchuck song. You know that one that goes on and on and on and doesn’t really stop or make any sense? Because, really, who cares if a woodchuck can chuck wood? And what does “chuck wood” even mean? Let me tell you, this song is, like, super, duper fun to listen to when you’re jet-lagged and delirious and not entirely sure where your last twenty-four hours went.The next day I woke up feeling surprisingly good for someone who had missed an entire Monday. (I think this is just proof that Mondays are totally stupid and not required.)
I made Vietnamese coffee using my new Vietnamese coffee making thingie. Which, sadly, didn’t taste anything like Vietnamese coffee probably because I was missing the condensed milk and the sweet, sweet, delicious crack.
I ventured outside to discover my niece had invented a new game called Immigration. She had constructed her own one-girl immigration station in the driveway — complete with an American flag and a cash register. Every time someone would pass by she’d insist on stamping our “passport” (really just a yellow post-it note that she would doodle on), and then demand you give her five dollars.
I went to swimming class.
And I went to the grocery store, where I marched myself over to the refrigerated section and picked up a family size bucket of hummus and a massive hunk of cheese, popping both into my cart like I did that kind of thing everyday, and it was really no big deal.
It was a surprisingly normal day for someone who isn’t quite sure what normal is anymore.
I didn’t walk around in wonder gaping at everybody and everything I encountered. I didn’t throw a bunch of toilet paper down the toilet and flush it five billion times just because I could. I didn’t even play dead to get out of doing something I didn’t want to do. (But, I swear, if I hear the woodchuck song again, I will.)
Where was I, again?Have you ever returned home after a long time away? How was it?