Friday, July 07, 2006

Home Again

I’ve traveled 18,890 miles, covering all 360 degrees of longitude (and about 30 degrees of latitude). I’ve been through four countries, three of them new to me. I’ve traveled by plane, train, car, boat, bus, subway, rickshaw, bike, funicular, and cable car. I’ve worn out one shirt, a pair of pants, a watchband, a pair of sunglasses, and two socks (sadly not a matched pair). I lost four pounds. I gained 13,571 frequent-flyer miles. I slept in five different people’s homes. I slept in a nomad tent. I spent seven nights on a train. I learned how to say, “I’m sorry” in four different languages. I went 10 days without seeing a fully dark night sky. I went 36 hours without my luggage.

And now I’m home.

I felt ready to come home at the end of the trip, but that didn’t prevent me from some pretty intense culture shock. I woke up every day for a week not knowing where I was—that’s the longest that effect has ever lasted for me. It’s so good to be home, though. I’ve been drinking water right out of the tap whether I’m thirsty or not—just because I can. After weeks of train compartments and budget hotel rooms, my apartment seems huge, even though it isn’t really. I can’t believe that I can take a cold drink out of the refrigerator any time I want. I can put ice in my drink. I can eat anything I want without peeling it or boiling it. I can get a good cup of coffee anywhere. I know where everything is. I can tell what the weather is going to do.

The best part is that it’s just so good to see everyone. My cats have been like living earmuffs at night, sleeping one on either side of my head as if they’re afraid to let me out of their sight. Come to think of it, Pipi’s been acting similarly, which is sweet. We’ve been having a little bit of a honeymoon, which is nice and just might make up for six weeks of loneliness. (What’s worse than being lonely but not alone? Not much.) I’m finally starting to get caught up on emails and phone calls, although I know a lot of you out there are still wondering if I’m lost in Mongolia or something. I’ll be back in touch, I promise.

Because I’m not going anywhere any time soon.

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