Life back home
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Tues. Sep. 15: Dallas, Texas, USA. Dear Diary. It's been almost 3 months since my last confession. I've wanted to sit down and do this so many times since we've been back. I can't even begin to explain all the things I've felt and thought about since that plane ride from London. I suppose today is especially appropriate for the last entry. Today marks exactly one year since we got on that plane leaving Dallas so long ago. I have billions of memories from the trip--it will always be a major part of my life.
Well, we arrived in hot, humid, bright Dallas and were met by my brother, my Dad, and several of K's friends from work--holding a welcome-home banner no less. I thought it was interesting that of all the places we went, the U.S. airport was the only one that searched our packs. Drove to my mom's and had a great reunion including another banner and balloons. All the furniture was just as I'd remembered. Sitting on that nice clean couch was exactly like I had thought it would be--wonderful. Had lunch at the Black-Eyed Pea--the home-cooking restaurant I'd thought about so many times. Then went over to Fort Worth for the reunion with K's mom after she got off work. Everything felt great! It was strange driving around--things looked familiar when I saw them, but I couldn't quite remember what was going to be around the next corner. Several new restaurants and a few new roads that were under construction when we left. I remember looking at the toilet and laughing. I guess we'd seen so many different kinds that "normal American" toilets looked strange. Everything was kind of in a dream that first day back. After about 2 days something hit me that I hadn't considered. We weren't leaving! We were staying here. It had been well over a year since I had felt that. A little scary actually. Can't just pack up and go when we get tired of things.
We spent the first 2 weeks or so getting all the pictures into albums. We used the negatives to number the back of every single picture to make reprints easier later. We shot 42 rolls of 38 exposures (our camera got 2 extra per roll), lost one roll in the mail (part of Malaysia), and the underwater roll I shot in Thailand came out blank. So we ended up with about 1600 pictures. After sorting, organizing, arranging, and labeling, we had 8 large albums and about 1300-1400 pictures for our picture party. Actually we had 2 parties--one for the Dallas side (friends from my office), and one on the Fort Worth side for friends from Kathey's office. Both went great. People were impressed. Had fun telling stories all night about all the things I've written about in here.
The next 2 weeks were spent mostly looking for a place to live. It got pretty old going back and forth between our parents' places. Finally found a house for rent very near where we used to live. I went back to work at my old job on July 27th and Kathey decided to look at other possibilities before going back to her old job. She's still looking--it's been really tough. Companies are laying off people right now and jobs are really hard to find. She may end up back at her old job soon. Moved into our house August 1st and got Sidney, our dog, back from the friends that were taking care of him all this time. About 4 days after we got home I flew to Lubbock to get my car from my grandfather. It was in pretty good shape--had to put in a new battery, spark plugs, etc, and then it ran great. When I left his house, I left my shampoo bottle and soap dish in his shower. 26 countries and I left it in his shower 4 days after I got back!! Also, after about two washings, my jeans finally gave out--they just kind of disintegrated into pieces, as though they had held up as long as they could, and had somehow sensed the return home.
The first 2 weeks at work went pretty well. Mostly getting things back in order--my desk, my computer, my books--all still there, just a lot more dust on them. They didn't hold my job for me, but it kind of worked out that way. It was like I never left. Before I left a year ago, I stacked a tall pile of work-related papers on my desk, with rubber bands around several papers, hoping someone would take care of them after I had gone. When I got back, not only was my office still empty, but the papers were still there, with the same rubber bands, all dried up and hanging from the stack!
But on the third week it all caved in. It was a combination of a lot of things. Dressing up for work, having a daily schedule again, looking at the long future ahead, and the biggest thing of all, not having the spare time I used to. It was (and still is) so hard to get used to only having a couple of hours each night and the weekends to do what I wanted. I started taking shorter (or no) lunch breaks to get more time at home. It all seemed like such a waste of time. I've decided to at least try to make a book out of my journals--I hope I can figure out something. I'm trying to do "important" things in the little spare time I have now. After that horrible 3rd week things got better. I feel pretty comfortable now going to work every day. Friday doesn't seem quite so far away each Monday morning. We're having a party this weekend. There are at least 2 friends that live in this area that I'll see for the first time since being back.
I remember an entry I made way back in Malaysia--I was saying how I wanted to record every event of the trip. Now I'm wanting to be sure I haven't left anything out before I call this journal finished. There are so many little stories I remember. But I suppose that's the whole point of going on a trip like this. I look back on the hard time we had in Hawaii and Fiji and think how easy that would have been after Asia--we've learned a lot since those first two weeks.
Some of the best things about coming home were the luxuries we'd forgotten about. Like ice. And air conditioning. And having a car. And a couch. And knowing the city. And the country. And the currency. And the language. Before the trip, I remember wondering about things like whether I would come back a different person. Or if people would look at me differently. I'm not really sure about either one. I have no doubt that it's changed me somehow. I feel like I've accomplished a great thing--whatever else happens to me over the years, I'll always be able to know that at least I did the trip. Maybe I've prevented a mid-life crisis.
So--for the future... As expected, Kathey and I have great plans for all the countries left to see (or return to). First on the list is Africa. We still want to see at least Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa, which has some of the nicest people we've ever met. Every S. African we met raved about how beautiful their country was, and were quick to offer their address, hoping they'd have the chance to show us around. Then there's still Russia, Vietnam, Spain, Portugal, and the rest of Scandinavia (stopping in Eskilstuna and Malmö of course).
So you finished it?
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