I’ve been back in America for a harried and fantastic 31 days. That’s one long summer month, although it’s been much cooler and less humid than I expected. In fact, being back in America has smashed most of my expectations into a million idiotic pieces. What a fool I was to think I knew what I was walking back into. America has been by far more wonderful and lovely and comfortable and happy than I had anticipated. I was very, very concerned and freaked out about coming back here. I feared politics and religion that I wasn’t used to (and didn’t miss) smacking me in the face. I don’t really know why… probably because I’ve had an undiluted version of America via Huffington Post and other news outlets telling me what America is like for the last three years. Don’t get me wrong – I think I’ve learned a lot about America and its position in the world from not living here for three years. But I also was overwhelmed with certain types of information, and I forgot about the people.

Everyone has been so amazing. Happy to see us, excited to hear about Korea and what we’re doing next, etc. It’s been nice to sit around and chat (in English – it can’t go unsaid), drink delicious micro-/home-brewed beers (DELICIOUS – it can’t go unsaid), to eat familiar and fantastic food (that doesn’t make me ill – it can’t go unsaid), and just feel, well, one. Not other. NOT OTHER. IT CAN’T GO UNSAID. As a privileged white girl, I never felt “otherness” until I left America, and never as powerfully as when I forced myself into the expatriate role abroad. And I loved it, but I forgot how easy it is to just be with others who are just like you. I love being otherly and I love being with minorities and I love being a minority, but what a breath of fresh air it has been to just be the same as everyone around me. It’s weird. But for the moment, it’s refreshing.

So, what have we been up to since we got back? Fine, you asked for it.

  • We arrived in Denver to a little Welcome Party of two – Kayse Nation and Ashley Heffern. We spent the first couple of days letting them help us back into our American-ness. We ate some good food, played Cards Against Humanity, stayed in a hotel, and relaxed. It was lovely.
  • We went down to Colorado Springs to see my mom and Jack, her boyfriend. Colorado Springs was so much better than I remembered. Jack’s house was awesome, we ate more delicious food, drank a lot, and enjoyed the mountain air and the Fourth of July.
  • We drove back to Denver for a weekend with Kayse. We did things. We ate at Steuben’s. We met people. We enjoyed company. Sarah Frundle came up and we saw Amy and Jake for a dinner at a great pizza place. We drank at a bar (and I wished for a split second I was in Korea again, where nobody ogles you and those that do you can pretend you don’t understand their language). Steven, Kayse, Sarah, and I drove up to Fort Collins and hung out down town. Kayse and Sarah left, and then…
  • We began the weeklong vacation with Steven’s family: Janine and Floyd, Kacee and Mike. We did Ft. Collins, Estes Park (Grumpy Gringo is NOT a good Mexican restaurant), Rocky Mountain National Park (where Janine befriended ALL the animals and tried to steal an aspen), New Belgium Brewery Tour (the highlight of the trip for me – Paardebloem, La Folie, and Lindsay’s S’mores Porter). We went to Denver next: saw Candace and Ken, Art Museum, saw the governor give a speech outside the Capitol, and I got lice somehow (yes. Lice.). Then: Colorado Springs, where my mom gave me two lice shampoo treatments and combed my hair, dinners at Jack’s cabin, Mafia, Manitou Springs, tornadoes on Pike’s Peak, horseback riding in the Garden of the Gods, and more Sarah Frundle.
  • Drove back to Iowa, finally, and I spent half a week going through about 70% of our worldly possessions (I left kitchen things for another day – we won’t need them for now). Threw away about 40 pounds of junk, and gave a bunch of clothes away. We went to Sioux Falls and saw Kacee and Mike again, as well as Jon and Kendra and their boys; I saw my brother and my grandparents, and Steven patiently stayed awake through about 8 hours of old home videos of me as a kid.
  • We finally made our way back to Ames. I love Ames. We are living at Kate and Chaz’s and there is no immediate or any time soon plan to find our own place, although after visiting Elizabeth in Des Moines, a home of our own would be really nice… but for now, we’re just settling in. We’re currently waiting on a mattress, bed frame, and a sofa slip cover to arrive from Amazon to finish up the rest of the moving in process. We’ve hung out with Kate and Chaz (briefly before they headed out on a vacation this week), Meghan and Lily, saw a glimpse or two of Kyle, and Chelsea, Ian, and Melodi are hanging here this week until their new duplex is ready to move into. We saw Diane at BAM! and I randomly saw Cayla (nee Westergard) in a parking lot. I have intentions to visit more people soon, but I need to take a breather and relax for a little bit. Steven starts work on Monday and I’ll start on the 15th. I’m going to let myself ENJOY nothing to do (ha – nothing – not quite).

Besides America being profoundly more expensive than Korea, it’s been great being back. Good thing we worked our little butts off in Korea for three years so we can afford to transition ourselves back into this country. Between car maintenance, Sasha’s vet bills, new furniture, paying off the rest of my student loans, and life in general, we’ve burned through more money than I’d care to acknowledge. We still need to buy another car, get Steven a bike, and save up for a future house. Oh, and finish paying off Steven’s loans, although that is definitely something that we could pay off slowly over the course of a year or two without it affecting much of our monthly income. Anyway, that’s blabbing on about things nobody cares about except for me. I have a new phone and phone number, I have a new hair cut, I will soon have a new comfortable bed (I cannot explain the depth of my excitement over a comfortable bed after three years on what basically amounts to sleeping on a box spring), and I will soon start a job that I am both nervous and excited to be a part of again. I’m glad to be part of the Ames community, and I have my Masters program deferred until next year, when it may be possible to continue working full time and take some part time classes if I feel like I still want to do that. For a brief moment, right now, things are good. I hope it lasts.