Coming home at last

Goodbye slow walkers who block the sidewalk, sewer smell in the morning and stifling heat!

Well, for two weeks at least.

After 14 months away I am finally going home for a desperately needed visit. My travel arrangements are set, my souvenirs for folks at home are bought and my bags are packed _ with sweaters. Lots and lots of sweaters.

A year in 95 F/35 C temperatures means my blood has thinned _ a fact evidenced by my blanket-sized woolly sweater I wear in my over-air conditioned office. The temperatures in New York City, though not cold by any standard, will be celebrated with layers of sweaters and hats and pants. Nantucket promises to be even chillier with its ocean breezes and early morning fog. And you know what that means? Yeah you do. Long johns.

But more than my celebration of days without perspiration, it is a chance for me to see my nearest and dearest. For weeks I have imagined nothing but hugging my dad for the first time in over year, of laughing with my two sisters as we drive up to Nantucket, and drinking a beer with my mom while we battle over heath care in the U.S. I have been reading up Mom. Watch out.

It is a chance for me to hug my best friend for the first time since we parted in tears, spending a week in her apartment gossiping about all that we’ve missed and all that we have planned. And I get to spend a week in NYC properly catching up with my closest friends over BBQ dinners and bottles of wine.

(Incidentally I will be consuming a bottle a day to celebrate being able to buy $10 bottles and the departure from a country that charges $30 for a bottle of crap from Australia. No offense Australia.)

The trip to NYC is also an opportunity to revisit my most favorite of places, a city in which I feel infinitely comfortable and content. I will walk through Central Park, roam the city streets to see what has changed in this past year, and finally drink a well made cocktail. I anticipate these activities will take up about 20% of my day.

The other 80% you might wonder? I will be spending that in every brightly-lit, well-stocked and sale-sign-adorned shoe store I can find. I will try on every shoe they have. I will annoy and frustrate sales clerks. And I will love every minute. Because I have a primal need for this kind of shoe therapy; I have spent a year with the same old ratty, torn, unraveling shoes because of Asians’ miniature feet. (Well they’re not all mini. Ladyboys have huge feet. But I couldn’t bring myself to shop at their store. I’m already freakishly tall here. I don’t need to raise questions.)

So 12 hours out and one day of work to go I am antsy, distracted and more excited for this trip than any other I have taken. I wonder how much I have changed having spent a year immersed in another culture and another lifestyle. I wonder if my perception of the U.S. is different and if reverse culture shock will hit me square in the face. I wonder if being home will make me realize how much I’ve missed, or if it will reaffirm my choice to live overseas.

But for now I can think of only one thing: that first step on U.S. soil and seeing the NYC skyline _ the undeniable sign that I am finally home.