Coming home after being overseas for a year-and-a-half is an emotional experience to say the least. Our second R&R (rest and recovery) for our two year assignment in SA took us around the world as we traveled from Bahrain to London to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Manila to Bahrain and then back to Saudi. We somehow survived the total air time of forty-five hours in the seventeen days journey. Why would we put ourselves through this madness? Because our family and friends mean this much to us. We would travel tens of thousands of miles to be there to hear that two of our friends are getting engaged, to find out that two of our friends are expecting their first child, and to watch two of our friends say “I do” to each other. We spent time with family, talking about how life has changed and witnessing it in person. Walking around Old Town Pasadena we saw that some of our favorite stores and restaurants had come and gone, recognition that the time capsule we were expecting to come back to was never shut. We closed those chapters of our life when we moved away, but they were still being written without us. This realization hit me the hardest as we sat in our favorite Himalayan restaurant eating some of our favorite dishes. As David and I reminisced about this life that we once inhabited, the tears poured out of me. We have changed. Our friends and family have changed. Places have changed. Outside the restaurant was a world that we recognized but which no longer felt familiar.
I imagine this is a one time shock to transition through since I have never been away from the U.S. for so long. Even David had to adjust to the homecoming in his own way. We stepped off the shuttle bus from LAX to the rental car company, and the driver asked us if we had ever been here before. David not realizing the context of the question responded, “yes, we’re coming home” with a giant smile on his face. The driver gave him a blank look as I quickly interjected, “no, we haven’t.” The driver then picked up my cue and said, “okay, so you’re going to make a left at the end of the sidewalk and then another left, follow the arrows until you see the sign.” The relief and joy of being back in CA was all we could think about as we held our suitcases. The sun set over the coast casting a red glow on the palm trees.