I title this entry “A Whirlwind” because that’s exactly what our trip home to the USA was. From the moment we re-entered the country, we continuously traveled from place to place seeing friends and family. So much happened in 6 weeks that it can be a bit difficult to even recall everything!
The first culture-shock we experienced was when we stepped into our rental car in Atlanta and had to re-acclimate how to drive on the right side of the road while in the left side of the car (as well as the whereabouts of the blinker and windshield wipers, ha). Once out of the car rental parking area and onto the 5-6 lanes of highway, it’s immediately obvious how much more intense driving can be in the states. It was also funny to see how FEW motorbikes (or any) were present on the road. There is definitely a busier, faster pace to life that we immediately felt upon our return.
Once out on the road, we did exactly what we had planned which was to go directly to our favorite Mexican restaurant “El Solecito” for lunch. The owner remembered us and we made sure to let him know how long we had thought about sitting in his restaurant. We went rather indulgent for lunch by ordering carnitas, tacos, ceviche, rice, beans, cheese dip, margaritas, and micheladas. It was heavenly to say the least. We sat there deliriously enjoying our lunch while simultaneously trying not to fall asleep from the near 30 hour journey we just experienced. After we all had our long-awaited fill of Mexican food we headed to our hotel to check in. We noticed a Target store next to the hotel so we decided go there as we hadn’t experienced a store with that kind of variety in nearly a year. WOW. You don’t realize how much choice you have everyday until you aren’t surrounded with it. We definitely saw Target in a different light/perspective. Consumerism is king in the US. After we lazily zombied our way through we came back to our hotel and immediately passed out.
After that first night in the USA, the following weeks of our trip focused more on the family we hadn’t seen in so very long. We spent our weeks jumping back and forth between Perry, Savannah, Milledgeville, Atlanta, Athens, and countless other cities and small towns all around and in-between throughout Georgia. We were fortunate enough to borrow a 1998 Buick Park Avenue from my aunt which we mercilessly drove about 3000 miles within just 6 weeks. We were able to spend lots of quality time with our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, coworkers, and countless friends. We visited the new and revisited places of our childhood witnessed with brand new eyes. River Street, Historic Savannah, Ocmulgee Indian Mounds, Rock Eagle, Lockerly Arboretum, Uncle Remus’ House, Rose Hill Cemetery, Downtown Macon, childhood playgrounds, old back roads, pool parties, etc. were amongst the detours and stops we made whilst home. Nostalgia was running high and emotion was full.
Towards the last week of our time back home, I felt a real sense of melancholy. I was so happy with the QUALITY time I experienced with our families and friends. Even when we lived in Atlanta, we rarely had the opportunity to spend so much time with family. This allowed us to create some real memories and share some wonderful conversation. Of course, as with all goodbyes, it was sad hugging everyone knowing it would be another year before we could see each other beyond a Skype session or say “hello” beyond an online chat. It is the most difficult aspect of international living. Yes, it is a 22 hour flight but I’m seeing the world much smaller these days. Although vast and full of stimulation and things to witness, it is indeed a small world after all.