Returning Home: Twice

Well, sadly I did not get around to doing any posting on Ellora and Ajanta. But I have a lot of spectacular things to say about it. You’ll all have to stay tuned for when I write a book, which is (thanks to a mostly botched Nano) about 23,000 words in the making. This is the first year that I’ve started Nano successfully and really failed. Ah well. I’ll survive, and over the next few months I definitely think I’m going to put some effort into this book. It’s a travel memoir so if anyone has an eye for that sort of thing, let me know and you can critique it to shreds.

It feels as though I had two home comings after I left India. First, I came back to Korea. I met with all my friends, and visited all my favorite restaurants. I visited my students, my old school, and met up with my boss. I also went to Taekwondo for the last time, and visited with them as much as I could. I did receive my black belt, which is a souvenir that I am exceptionally proud of. I went to the Jimjilbang and soaked in a cool bath in a sweltering, bejeweled room. I also had a pretty wild night in Itaewon, which oddly enough, I had never actually done before. All in all, it was a dramatic, excellent send off with all the things that I both loved and hated about Korea. It was an excellent last snapshot, and I really had a great time. Oh, and I ate myself SILLY.

Then, four days later, I pulled an all nighter to get on a plane back to the USA. I went to Shisha house and enjoyed several hours of joking and talking about classes, just as we did every night. Smoked a couple shishas and had a couple hard ciders (Fred has an excellent hard cider at Shisha house that I didn’t try for such a long time–then once I did I couldn’t go back!) Then Kristen and I had an epic crap-suitcase-dumping adventure at 2:30am. After that, I loaded up the taxi, hugged my girl goodbye, and headed for the airport.

Even though I was in trouble timewise, there were no problems at the airport. I had to pay the expected overweight baggage charge, but another couple had it much worse than me, since they had like 12 bags, all of which appeared to be WAY over the limit. They were pulling things out of suitcases and dumping them in plastic bags–all sorts of odd things.

The flight was long but uneventful, until I got to Chicago, and read on the news ticker that hours after I had left, shelling had occurred between the North and the South. That was surreal, because suddenly it was as if I really, truly wasn’t there anymore. Not only did it seem like distressing news, but it also seemed as though it was far away–not my country. I didn’t have the same perspective on the event as I would have had if I were in Daejeon.

Rather overwhelmed by the amount of conversations I could hear around me, I wandered through the airport, got on my flight, and returned home without any hitches. A nice guy, who helped me get my heavy suitcases off of the customs baggage claim in Chicago, got nailed for having green beans in his book bag.

There were massive tears at the airport in Minneapolis. It must have looked like a movie to everyone else watching.  Then, after pronouncing that I was done crying, (and failing) we picked up my baggage, and went to eat burgers at Big Ten down the street from my house. Then I went to the Eden Prairie Mall and wandered around like a kid in a candy store until my legs and stomach refused to let me continue moving.

I am going to do some backlog posting about India, I think… just to get the memories down. Stay tuned for that, and for some amusing posts about reverse culture shock.

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