Saturday, November 12, 2011

Our Return Home to the USA

Our tour through paradise had to end eventually, and then it was time to return home.  Actually, I went home twice.  The first time, “home” was visiting Korea.  We returned for a few days to pick up our belongings and to visit with family one last time.  It was a surreal experience because we were back in Korea, but not at our house, our neighborhood, or back to our routine.  The visit still reminded us of what we enjoyed so much about this country – kind people, neon lights, and delicious barbeque.  We even took a trip to our former school and had a brief visit with the children we’ve loved so much.

Four days later we boarded our flight from Seoul to New York and we were really on our way home.  Door to door it was a 26 hour journey.  Stepping off the plane, I was happy to hear New York accents and tickled to get my first “welcome home” at the immigration check point.  Then I was seeing my parents for the first time in 18 months.  It was a nice reunion, and once at my childhood home it didn’t feel I’d been gone so long after all! 

Our time in the USA has been filled visiting family and friends.  I was thrilled on my first weekend to go to Villanova University’s homecoming with college friends.  I’d missed so many events like this in the past, I was overjoyed to simply be present.  I’ve helped out my brother and his wife with a little babysitting, but truly it was a gift to have one-on-one time with my two adorable nieces.  I know I’ve already re-connected with them and our bond will only grow stronger.

Just as we did upon our arrival in Korea, we are busy comparing everything.  Our once familiar neighborhood grocery store seems strange.  Where’s the aisle of jumbo rice bags and the aisle dedicated to ramen noodles?  Why are sesame oil and rice noodles so expensive?  We mutter these things to ourselves, while at the same time being delighted that we can now afford to eat as much cheese as we want.  Cheese was a pricy treat in Asia.

I’m relieved that life is all in English and therefore easy.  I do not need to spend time with my dictionary, planning an errand before stepping out the door.  It’s routine rather than an adventure to go a post office, restaurant, or shop.  However, my husband and I find we’re delighted to speak with our Korean drycleaners who tip us off to where we can buy kimchi in the area.

I’m amazed at how quickly we adapted to life in Korea.  It really did become a second home to us.  So, as I revel in the joy of being home in the USA, I also find myself missing the familiarity of being a stranger in a strange land.

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