Departing from Peking Capital Airport, flying over Northeastern China then arcing over Russia, the Pacific, Canada, down to Toronto with a speedy transfer over to the U.S. gate, hopping Lake Ontario in a tin-can plane to Rochester.
Sunday night, 16 hours and several reverse time zones later... Home.
It's familiar, and extremely comfortable. I'm not as jarred as I imagined, but drained from my off-schedule sleeping. The sun rises through a clear sky, but a bit later than it would in China. No smoke. No smog. Traffic is sparse. No one honks. Sometimes the roads are completely abandoned. Silence aside from the birds.
Water from the tap has never tasted fresher. My dogs happily snuggle. I can lay on my carpeted floor. I can walk barefoot around my backyard. I need the gears on my bike (like, a lot). I don't need a VPN to check my e-mail or post a blog. I'm fully literate again. Please, sorry, excuse me. I have to remind myself that it's pleasant to smile at strangers again, and engaging them doesn't have the potential of a cultural misunderstanding. I love catching up with family, and friends one by one; they lead the conversation with questions and reactions, while I can probe into their lives these last several months.
My closet is brimming with clothes, the floor scattered with amassed stubs, receipts, books, and souvenirs. I've stocked up the kitchen with a much-needed trip to Wegmans: baby spinach, tomatoes, orange juice, fresh mozzarella, blue corn tortilla chips and some Chinese touches like chili sauce, tofu, noodles, and those little koala-shaped-chocolate-filled cookies. I don't have all the equipment or ingredients to truly recreate Chinese cuisine, so I'm doing my best not to abandon the exciting flavors I've grown so accustomed to. All of these foods can actually be found in China, especially at high-end grocery stores like my guilty pleasure City Shop, but now they don't cost an arm and a leg.
The greatest drawback is my resumed lack of mobility; the hills of the Finger Lakes aren't efficiently navigated unless you have a car. This is to say, I'm basically a hermit at home. It's a beautiful region, yet with different points of interest than a city. Nevertheless, I've missed this dearly and embrace the wide, untamed space with happiness.
(Un)fortunately I have a lot of cleaning and purging to do, particularly a closet overhaul that doesn't just include my clothes. After living for a while within the confines of 2 suitcases, I've realized that all the stuff I own is not necessary, that you can where the same shirt or pair of shorts a few times a week, and that collecting more just holds you back. Much as I love my things, memories do not need tangible connections. A lot of sentiment and recollection has faded over the years, so I'm trying to ditch that stuff. When I come to live on my own, I'll need a small dwelling-- that should be the physical restriction on my possessions! My brain still isn't in full gear, but I think there needs to be a Memory Management class for all the experiences I never want to forget.
Upcoming post: Chinese food photos I've collected on my iPhone :)
Listening: "The Night Out" by Martin Sloveig