I sometimes have to stop and think to myself that this is what it feels like. I mean right now in my life – like the phase I’m currently in, if you know what I mean. It’s been a progression I suppose and I’m reminded that this phase, the return home, is one to be documented. Seriously – like many times in the past year, I’m simply not gonna be in this situation often. Coming home after a year around the world? That’s a pretty unique place to be in life, so let’s get started.
Exciting, uncomfortable, inspiring, and totally discombobulating. Such is the experience of coming home from the World.
As I began the process of re-settling – like finding a new apartment and gainful employment – I was overcome with restlessness; I didn't want to re-adjust. I'd managed to pick up and move to
My personal experience in coming home has been smooth on the outside and a bit rough on the inside. We were lucky to come back to our own home and have a couple of weeks to decompress. Viewed from afar, it would appear quite easy and worry-free – and it was I suppose except for the voices in my head reminding me that the real world is coming – fast. Am I prepared? Do I really need to rest right now? How do you rest?
Right now is a period of limbo before the next big thing and after the last big thing. The trip was something that we viewed as a project with a beginning and end. By coming home in one piece, we celebrated the successful conclusion of the project. For now, it is all about the next project, which refocuses attention that might otherwise be diverted to a longing for the road. We’re in the process of making a clean break, which is how we started the trip.
This, of course, doesn’t preclude us from reverse culture shock. Whether we’ve chosen to recognize it or not, coming home has been a rollercoaster of emotion. It’s a little like jet lag – you feel something off in your head, but until you connect the feeling to the event, it just seems like a mood swing. We’ve just recently recognized our symptoms and all the little things that make home so strange.
I have personally had ups and downs in my own confidence or perception of my ideas – a newfound lack of confidence in our big plans for 2007, less confidence in being able to gather up all the balls that so swiftly rolled away in 2006 and less confidence in restarting. It is like being on the road created a bubble where ideas and plans all sounded so perfect. Home then becomes the place where all the ideas are seen in the context of reality- often a reality that changed in the last year. After a few days on the low end, my confidence is growing again as reality sinks in.
Never have I valued small talk so much. It gives me great joy to socialize and a big part of that, for me, is humor. One of the big rules of travel is that jokes don’t travel well and for the most part, I couldn’t interact with strangers on trip in any light and humorous way. I now value the ability to talk a little smack to someone in line, or with the barista, or with our neighbors. They understand me and it feels so good to have the confidence that my words mean what I think they mean (most of the time). Fortunately they also understand that I’m illiterate when it comes to
As a short side note- one strange thing I’ve noticed too is that I’m not yet used to Asian people speaking English. After so long in
The most wrenching experience for me was returning to our dog Amos who is 12 years old. My experience with him has played with my mind more than any other thing. Amos is not a young dog and his age nearly forced us to delay the trip for a few years. We decided he would be fine for a year. As it turned out, the year was not so kind to our beloved dog. He is showing signs of arthritis and I’m now the guy waiting on his dog to walk through the park. He’s as sweet as ever, but just a different kind of dog. He doesn’t play. He doesn’t chase squirrels. He sleeps a lot. Thankfully he has recently shown improvement after switching to a new anti-inflammatory (remadyl) and his attitude is less mopey. Plus, I think he's becoming my dog again.
And in case these points may makes you think otherwise, home is good - very, very good for us right now. In fact, we both feel liberated by the trip. Now is a time for us to rebuild, to rethink, to re-imagine. In a lot of ways, this is a whole new beginning for us both – few times in our life will we have such a perfect time wipe clean the slate, call off the old bets and take a fresh look. Despite the ups and downs, we’re both convinced it’s all up from here.
Our year (and this web site) is coming to a close very soon and and Christmas is extra special this year. From the road we imagined building a fire and cuddling up with our dog for our version of family time on Christmas morning. With the hum of the vacuum cleaner in the background, Amos in his bed and pre-game football on TV, it's not exactly what we imagined, but it sure is home and it sure feels good.
Our Christmas wish for you is a little bit of encouragement. We hope that you will start planning your next big adventure. Maybe it's travel, starting a family, a new job or writing a book. Whatever the adventure, the best day to start planning is today. Write it down, set a date and ignore that voice in the back of your head that says you can't do it. You can do it and reminding yourself of this fact is the first big step.
Merry Christmas everyone!
I've been called upon by my friend Nancy White to share 5 things about me that others are not likely to know. This is an idea or "meme" going around the blog world now. You can see how other people responded here.
1. Snails for money. I grew up on a Goldfish Hatchery that my family owns called Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery in Kernersville, NC. Sometimes snails would breed in a pond and when it was drained, I would go out into the mud and pick up the snails and sell them to Blue Ridge. It was my first business.
2. My Front Teeth. In fifth grade I was on a concrete playground with a kid named Charley H. and we were doing Kung Fu moves. I kicked my foot up into the air and he grabbed it. The next thing to hit the ground was my face, breaking my nose and chipping both my front teeth. My front teeth are now bonding.
3. Nipple matters. I have a superflous, or supernumerary nipple on my left side. It doesn't do much really. But less than 2% of men have them, so I think I'm special. According to TheSuperfluousNipple.com, I am not alone. These people are also special:
Anne Boleyn - Queen of England
Jackson Browne - Musician
Chuck Cleaver - Musician (The Ass Ponys)
Scatman Crothers - Actor, Singer
John Edwards - U.S. Senator
Brian Jones - Musician (The Rolling Stones)
Frank Langella - Actor
Moms Mabley - Comedienne
Bill Paxton - Actor, Director
Mena Suvari - Actor
Mark Wahlberg - Actor
Tilda Swinton - Actor
4. I love Phish at New Years. I have seen the band Phish over 50 times live and spent 4 consecutive New Years Eve's (4 shows at a time) with them in New England and New York City (94, 95, 96, 97). I still enjoy the music and would see them again if they were around, but I'm not as much of a fan as I used to be. I had fun,fun times being a part of the Phish community and got to see a lot of the east coast to boot.
5. I nearly died in high school. I was in a wreck coming home from a party in thick fog. We ran a stop sign and got nailed by a van on my side of the VW beetle. Both my lungs collapsed, my skull cracked over my ear, ribs were broken and glass became embedded in my face. I still have a piece in my cheek - I'll let you feel it if you like. The first time my Mom saw me in the ER, I had blood coming out of both ears. I recovered 100%.
It takes a while to covert. After a year, we found ourselves becoming almost fully converted to the world's systems as opposed to the US systems. 35 degrees used to mean close freezing to me - now it means heat and sweat and stickiness. Here are a few other:
We now know about how long a kilometer is.
Trash is rubbish.
When eating fast food, we leave the rubbish on the table instead of cleaning it up ourselves.
A can on Coke is 33 milliliters.
Dates are in this format dd/mm/yyyy.
Dinner time is now closer to 9 pm.
You fill up a car in liters of gas.
When roads intersect they usually form a circle instead of a cross.
We line up on the right side of escalators if not moving ourselves
We can now provide exact change in Euros without staring at our palm for 10 seconds. Intersting side note: There is no 25 cent euro coin - only a 20. We figure because the US quarter is based on the stardard system that has a base of 12 instead of the metric base of 10. Royale wi' Cheese.
The education after high school is called university
The 24 hour clock (military time in the US) now works in our heads without calculation.
There are no restrooms of even bathrooms - only toilets and WC's.
When we pay for something, we expect to pay the price on the tag (without tax added at the end).
When calling, we automatically want to start with a "+".
Of course, this means that we now have to de-convert.
This is an invitation for anyone in Seattle who would like to come and reconnect with us. We're jonesin' to hook back up with old friends and meet folks who have been following along. Here's the info:
I've also added this as an event on Upcoming.org. We hope we'll see you on Tuesday! There is usually parking in the back.
We may be home, but we've got a few more weeks to go on TwinF. Our plan is to stop blogging on the site within a month. From then on, it will continue to be available online for many years. So, we have about a month to get out everything we want to say about the trip.
If you'll hang around here for another month or so, we'll be posting some best-of lists, a year in review, more pictures, a couple of videos and some things we wrote but never posted. It should be a fun way to end up.
Just for the record, it took Sachi a couple of minutes to remember which exit we take off of I-5 to go home. It has been a while.
I owe Sachi big ups (and some slack) for driving all the way across the country - 4600+ miles. I did not drive once the whole time. She did an awesome job and now we're even-steven for my share of foreign driving.
Seattle in 21 miles, says the sign.