A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about reverse culture shock, but quickly deleted it upon re-reading. It sounded trite and superficial to me. A little too sarcastic. I realized that I was struggling with putting this re-integration into words, and the obvious stories to tell (the overwhelming number of varieties of barbecue sauce at the grocery store, and the miraculously comfortable weather) seemed just, blah. Not very meaningful.
The truth is, for the first month or so of being back, I found myself a little overwhelmed in social situations where I was asked about Thailand, teaching, or traveling. At best, it felt like my soundbites just scratched the surface. Which made me laugh to myself as I thought, “Can I refer you to my blog?” This doesn’t mean I’m not thrilled to share, but I’d rather do it while on a long hike or have a slow, rambling conversation over whiskey or tea. And now, with a little time, I’ve realized that one of the many delights of returning to the States (as an intentionally-unemployed nomad) is plenty of time to spend with friends and catch each other up on a year of our lives. It is wonderful.
I remember the feeling when Suphanburi, Thailand, started to feel like home. Just a few weeks in and I felt my insides settle when returning to my little studio apartment after weekends away. I had new friends, a pretty decent Skype connection, and 800 adoring students: the connections and relationships that started to make a home, home. So this, these last six weeks, has been a time of settling in for me in the U.S. The comfort of being with my family — making meals together, playing Scrabble, throwing the ball with the dog in the living room and collapsing in relieved giggles when we just barely miss breaking a lamp. Being the first one to bed and the last one to rise, without a pang of guilt.
So a few days ago I packed up the trusty Subaru (101 thousand miles, yeah!) and drove back to Denver. Last April, when I drove out of Colorado, I had no idea what was in store. And upon my return, it just amazes me, the amount of life you can fit into ten months. This is my forever lesson from this year – to always live like this, as long as I’m breathing and healthy. I don’t plan to be a backpacker indefinitely, but I do plan to push myself, make decisions with my heart and my intuition, and take leaps into the vast, the foreign, and the unknown. Because you can always come home. Though I may not have an apartment as of today (unless I want to move into my storage unit), and I am still weirdly paralyzed by the barbecue sauce aisle, my home is always here. Where my family and friends are. I’m a lucky, lucky girl.