As this chapter of our lives begins to close, we have been feeling all sorts of different emotions. Anger, excitement, anxiety, to name a few. I've noticed irregularity in my sleep. This morning, I woke up at 6:15 and was wide awake, long before the sun came up. That's not a normal thing. I chose to take that time to check a few random thoughts online, such as, how far is it to bike from Tulsa to Tahlequah? (about 80 miles) It's thoughts like these that keep me wound up. Somewhat pointless, I know. But the underlying theme is that I'm stressed.
I never thought that the thought of moving back to America would make me to feel this way. It was 5 years ago around this time that I was feeling the same kind of stress about moving to Korea. I had a million questions, not knowing what living on the other side of the world would look like. Fortunately, we had a great recruiter who was able to answer our questions and was continually reassuring us that it would be okay.
Now, we are on the reverse side of it all. Yes, we know what we are returning to, but having lived in another culture for 4 years has truly changed me. One of my fears is that I will return and see old friends who think I am the same person they knew 4 years ago. I think I am to an extent, but have also had many life-changing experiences. My thinking is different, so to assume that I am the same is selling me short. I'm afraid once my friends realize I'm not the same, it may cause distance between us if we can't find a way to bridge that gap. If you're one of my friends back home and are reading this, my best recommendation to you is to do research on Korea in order to understand where I'm coming from (literally and figuratively). Think of good questions to ask, to show that you care more about me than just the fact that I'm in your life.
Coming home has all sorts of different moods. We have experienced the excited, dreaming stage, where I think about living a life of solitude in a cabin in the woods. Sounds dreamy, doesn't it? But those romantic feelings are long past now, replaced by questions like, What am I going to do for work? Will I be able to live without internet for several months? Will my friends from America remember me, or better yet, will we be able to relate to each other? And so it continues...
The one thing I do know and am able to control, is that I am here, now. What I mean is that I have the opportunity/challenge for the next 2 months to be present with the friends we have here in Korea. Daily, I have to remind myself of this. I never want to be waiting or wishing for another time, because God gave me this time to make the most with the people I'm around now.
One great example of this was Thanksgiving. We have become fairly adaptive in our situation here, and are pretty resourceful when it comes to food. So for Thanksgiving, we had several of our closer climbing friends over to share in good company and food. Rebs and I took care of most of the cooking, which turned out to be a hit with our friends. We had chickens instead of turkey, but everything else was pretty much the same, only made from scratch because it's our only option here. Corn casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and homemade cranberry sauce. It was pretty fantastic (toot! toot!). All to be topped off with Rebs' homemade pumpkin pie! (Sorry, no picture. I think we were too excited to eat it.)
One thing I really appreciate here is that everyone is accepted. At our Thanksgiving, we had a couple military friends, a few English teachers, and a Russian grad-student. But in Korea, everything is "normal", meaning it doesn't matter if you're not from around here... because none of us are. We celebrate each others' differences and are usually open to learn from each other instead of segregate. Thank you to my Korean friends for that.