I was leaving Busan at 8 in the morning on Saturday and arriving on US soil at 7:45 in the morning, also Saturday. (time travel...) My long flight from Tokyo was leaving at noon or something. The way I figured it was that I could stay up all night on Friday (when everyone in the US was awake), catch my plane, and during the long flight from Tokyo I could get my sleep (while everyone in the US was sleeping) and therefore getting a jump on adjusting to the time. Well in the war of Samantha vs. Jet lag, I am the very clear winner, which you will hear about later.
So I wake up Friday morning at 10am or so like usual, have a regular old work day, come home and get all my bags ready to go. We met everyone for dinner and a last night of hoorah which turned into an all night karaoke party. I had to drag Al out of there at about 5:30 so we could rush home, grab my bags and head to the airport. Once there and on the plane, it really hit me that I was going home. Let's just say that as euphoric as I was, my nerves were going crazy. I wasn't really sure what to expect out of my time home, and the thought of being in the United States had me quite jittery in a way that only someone who has been away for a very long time could understand. The best way to explain it is that my new "normal" is now very different than the normal I would be going back to.
And back to it I got. Fast. After that excruciating 13 hours, I made my way through customs and on to the sky train that would take me to the correct terminal. As I was looking out the windows at the landscape, I spot a row of American flags. I am so overcome with emotion I have to keep myself from tearing up right there on that train at the sight, of all things, flags. I take a deep breath and get myself together and realize with much happiness: I'm home. I head to the gate where Corey was waiting for me. Gah! Nervous! Excited! And there she was, of course not facing the way I would be coming from, so I latched onto her and we cried and hugged and laughed and it was just an exhilarating thing seeing my best friend of over well over ten years in the flesh and not some digitized version on skype. We boarded a plane the size of a roller skate to Nashville where my mom was waiting and also crying. Because here in Korea I don't really need to censor things I say in public because no one understands me, while waiting for my bags I shout loudly to Corey as I'm walking to the bathroom, "Hang on, gotta change my tampon!". I quickly realize that yes, everyone just heard me say that. This is not the first time that I will forget where I am and how to behave.
As I walk out of those baggage claim doors, get my first whiff of American air in 14 months, hop in a normal vehicle and not a taxi and start down the highway, I am completely overwhelmed. Beyond overwhelmed, actually. The next ridiculous thing to get me very emotional was the sight of the big green signs on the interstate. I spotted them and just about lost it. It's slowly sinking in where I am and that I now have five unencumbered weeks ahead of me in this glorious, Taco Bell filled country. As I have Corey next to me and my mom in the front, I look out the windows at the Nashville scenery and think, When are we going to Target?