Friday, March 18, 2011

Coming Home: A Scrapbook

People keep asking if we're excited to be home, with a very concerned look on their face. Of course! If I thought about it hard enough, there are many things to be depressed about now that we're home in rainy Washington. Traveling offers a freedom in time, culture, routine, and state of mind that you can't get at home. Freedom to visit museums daily, to sit for hours and watch people pass, to eat pastries on a daily basis, to not have a place to sleep at night, to rent a moped without a license and ride it barefoot. Traveling allows you to escape the people who put you down or intimidate you, the work/chores that tire you out, busy days, rushed meals. You're freed from listening to what anyone says-- you don't understand the language!  When traveling, there's no such thing as looking forward to the weekend. You don't even realize what day of the week it is.

But we've been too busy adjusting to life back home to think too hard about the negatives. We have plenty to be excited about at home. As much as we love to travel, there's something about home that's always tugging and eventually pulls you home. As much as we love living abroad in unfamiliar places, we have too many goals and aspirations at home that we couldn't accomplish if we ditched the country for good. So we're happily moving onto the next chapter of our life in Seattle-- the start of our married life at home, moving in together for the first time, and working together from the home (the same home)! It's been a bumpy start, not because we're fighting over what we're putting on the mantle or what needs to be donated to Goodwill, but because there's just so stinkin much to do and people to see when you've been gone for half a year! Here's a helter skelter of images from our first week home, mostly from our little point and shoot camera and even some from my cell phone.

We had a fantastic last meal together on Koh Phanang island. A warm night. We sat outdoors with our table overlooking the ocean and we tried not to think about how cold it'd be back home. Chicken basil, penang curry, Tom Yam soup, breaded shrimp, white rice, and mojitos. (We don't usually order this much! It was a special occasion.) The next day, a bittersweet drink at a rooftop bar overlooking the city of Bangkok on our last night before flying out.  

Two flights equaling 15 hours total and a 12 hour layover in between got us halfway around the world. There were sleepy moments, sad moments, bored moments, anxious moments, so-excited-I-could-hardly-stand-it moments.

Our first (and biggest) project upon arriving home was unpacking. Not just our suitcases but our entire condo-- all our belongings were in moving boxes while we were away. We've never lived together before, so trying to fit our stuff into one home is a delight (expect for fitting our clothes into one closet). We still have a long ways to go.

Then there were the little things-- like getting cell phone service, forwarding and reading mail, doing laundry, digging out the winter clothes, filling an empty fridge, picking up miscellaneous household items, getting a joint bank account, changing my legal last name to Manchik, running errands of all sorts, sending off the first packages from our new shop Handle With Care. You'd think our first meals would be all-American since we've been away for so long, but nope... first we went out for Mexican (pictured), then Hungarian, then Chinese teriyaki... 

We were suddenly in such high demand. We were invited to dinner at Yuriy's parents' house, at brother's house, at grandma's house... we loved it. We missed home cooked food and got to meet our brand new baby niece, Liana (Yuriy's brother's first child). In exchange for food, we shared stories of our travels and family crowded around a laptop to see our endless photos (I guess the blog wasn't enough!). 

...and despite our long to-do list at home, we took off on a weekend trip to Idaho (where I grew up) to see my side of the family. We carpooled with my ex-roommate Ally and one of our bridesmaids (who is also from Idaho), and I almost felt single again. Yuriy slept in the back seat while Ally and I chatted in the front without pausing the entire 7.5 hours to my parents' house. The weekend was filled with my mama's delicious cooking, a lot of playtime with nieces/nephews, catching up with brothers/sisters, a family sushi-making night, dates with friends (single ones and married ones), and meeting new babies and puppies! 

Is 6 months really that long? Countless friends have become engaged since we left home. Or got a boyfriend. Or got married (and we missed it). We have friends and family who had babies. Or got pregnant. Some have moved homes. Some have changed jobs. Our church expanded from one campus to two. Kids have grown like weeds... the bald baby now has hair. It makes me sad to think how much we've missed out on at home to see the world. We're definitely not done traveling, but we're certainly sticking around home with the people we love most in between our escapes. 

- Julia