Sorry for the prolonged silence, but it has been a rather busy couple months. It doesn’t seem like we’ve had even a couple hours to ourselves to collect our thoughts enough to share them with the rest of you. But we’re back (in South Korea) and ready to unpack the last couple months.
Maybe it’s just us but it seems like when we’re traveling in a foreign country, nothing comes easily or goes according to plan. So we should have known not to assume that when returning home, everything would go according to plan. There were so many things that needed to fall into place in order for us to arrive home in time, where our parents and extended family were waiting for us at the Des Moines Airport. We woke up at 4 AM and hopped on a taxi in order to catch our bus bound for Seoul. The bus took around four hours to get to the airport, and as soon as we arrived we made our way through international security. It went smoothly, and it seemed everything was lining up. We made it in plenty of time. In fact, we took a picture in traditional clothing for fun. Following a short flight to Japan, we got on our second flight and headed for Houston. The plane landed and we noticed that we only had an hour to make our connecting flight to Des Moines. When we got of the plane we ran to beat the crowd, but when we saw the lines for immigration we knew that it was going to be tight. Almost 30 minutes later we made it through, got our bags from the carousel, and put them through security again to get them on our last plane. Again, we went through security, which had a long, wrapping line. Making it past security I felt like the family in Home Alone running towards their plane in order to catch it. But alas upon arriving at the gate, the doors had shut within the last couple minutes. We had come so far only to miss our last leg. Making a long story short, we had to take a later flight to Chicago and then a flight to Cedar Rapids, two hours away from our intended destination. We were so overjoyed and appreciative for my mom, Jon Williams, and Kaylynn who met us at the airport. But by the time we reached it was 1:30 AM and everyone was asleep. Not the welcome home we had envisioned, but we were home none-the-less. Oh, and did I mention our bags didn’t come for three days?
I saw my parents on and off for the first few days as they traveled between Cedar Falls and Des Moines. Skyping is a gift to the expat, but there’s nothing like spending time in person. For example, if two people are talking to two people over skype, it is for the purpose of conversation. A silence lasting more than twenty seconds is considered awkward. However, sitting on a park bench with my mom and dad and just being, that’s priceless.
I never really had any expectations on how coming back would feel. I didn’t want to build it up either way. But I just kept thinking in my head how normal everything was. And after some of our experiences (see previous posts) it turns out normal was exactly what I needed. I drove, and it felt great. I went to Wal-Mart and talked to employees. I went for a run outside, and no one tried to race me. I went through a drive through at night, because I could. I pet random dogs tied up outside. I went to the farmers market. I ate two Tasty Tacos. In fact, I didn’t say no to any food. Sometimes when people ask me how my time in America was all I can think to say was, “I was completely full the whole time.”
But I guess, upon thinking about it, my heart was pretty full too. After a busy week and a half in Des Moines, BreeAnn and I traveled to Cedar Falls for a week, where time seemed to slow down a bit. Along with my parents, my sister Sarah, her husband Brent, and my two nephews were waiting for us. It was really great catching up with them and meeting my nephew Aiden for the first time. Anyone who meets him knows that he is just about the most smiley baby of all time. Not only that, but he can do a pretty mean headstand.
The last day in Cedar Falls may have been my favorite. Nothing was planned. And if you’ve ever been to my house you’ll know that’s okay. Grab a cup of coffee, gaze out the windows, and watch the river go by. I don’t remember much of the conversations I had with my mom and dad that day, but I do remember connecting with them on an deep level and wishing I didn’t have to go. I hadn’t been home in a year, but in many ways it felt like I had never left.
Throughout our journey in the states I knew I was going back to Korea to teach, but I had an overwhelming feeling that when I do come back home I’ll be ready.