It’s not easy to come home.
First, there’s the sixteen hours of the flight back, which is in itself a special kind of torture. There’s the reverse culture shock, this inability to comprehend what it’s like to be among people who speak your native language. For the first twelve hours being back, there’s the violent jolting back to a place where the unfamiliar becomes the comforting – where things like ordering a coffee at a Dunkin’ Donuts inside Newark Terminal E bring back a searing sense of nostalgia for no apparent reason at all.
It feels powerless to come home.
There’s a sense of complete disorientation about being back on the other side of the globe. It’s difficult because people who you used to love no longer know what to do with you. They can’t drop their lives for a week to spend as much time with you as possible, no matter how much you want them to. There’s this desire to experience everything, to see everyone, to disrupt their daily lives to say, here, I am here, why are you not paying attention? There is so much to discuss in so little time. And that’s the thing: there is just so little time.
And then there’s the jet lag.
For the first week, I doze off by 6pm, I’m restless and awake at 4am and groggy in all of the hours in between. I function best at times that I should be asleep. I refuse to fully acclimate because in just a week I’ll be back in a more familiar time zone. I never really get used to home.
And so, it’s not easy to come back home, but we do it anyways, because we miss our friends, our family, the food, the people, the clean air, the green road signs on I-95 pointing me towards New Haven (Exit 3).
We miss it all, until we actually come back. And then I begin to miss Shanghai.