Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Ambassador’s Ball was last night. It’s December now. It’s real that we’re going home. I’ve been denying it, but I can’t anymore. There is a bulletin board on the ship that has some of the questions we’ll be asked when we get home on it. I don’t have answers, not the answers that people will want. What port was my favorite? I have one, but just barely. It doesn’t make sense that it is my favorite, yet still it is. How was it? Someone wrote on the bulletin board “How were your last three and a half months?” Can we tell someone who is actually interested from the casual question just to be polite? There are programs on re-entry basically every night until we get back to Miami. Tonight there’s one on how to talk to people about your experiences. I’m not ready to talk about my experiences. I don’t even know where I would start with someone who was actually interested in hearing about them. I’m not sure if I should talk about the funniest things or the most life changing things or start with the earliest things. There are habits that I have picked up in port that I haven’t quite been able to shake. The Indian head bobble. The lisp in my Spanish, when I pronounce an ‘s’ at all. The bow I picked up in Japan, that I still use, though now it’s in combination with “Gracia.” (no ‘s’ at the end)

There are so many things that made the last 3 months what they were. The kofte, udon and unagi, naan, pho, apple tea, sangria, haggling, 4-5 hour bus rides, the little tricycle that hasn’t faded from my thoughts, lifeboat drill on Thanksgiving, being a ‘princess,’ cheesy pick up lines, bats, Varanasi, “mystery cream” in Japanese pastries, Shinkansen, sake, yen, euro, yuan, rupees, kuna, lira, camel rides and elephant rides, being stopped to take pictures with the locals, conversations with random people I sat next to on planes, trains, and bus rides, Hero, Stardust, Mulan, Spirited Away, eating jellyfish, ox tongue, and bird’s nest soup, acting out the process of making butter in order to bridge the communication barrier, confessional videos, seeing nearly every middle aged American man in Bangkok with at least one Thai hooker, the Great Wall, Peking Duck, getting lost, figuring out how to get back, the presence of KFC everywhere, perfume bottles in exchange for conversation, sunrises and sunsets, seeing the difference between a war memorial and a peace memorial, being comforted by a Japanese man at Hiroshima, the stairs at the Great Wall and Angkor Wat, the 34 ramps at the Giralda, looking at Singapore all day but not actually being able to experience it, work outs with Donna and Nicole, Donica, the 67th, Stardust, Croatian pizza, grocery stores always being closed when I try to go to them, the depressing Split Zoo, batiks, calligraphy lesson, Ganesh, Shiva, Buddha, deep fried bread, Taco Day, taking a terrifying rickshaw ride, offending an entire group of Indian men because I hugged one of my female friends, 36 Sticks, Ben and Jerry’s right across from the Cadiz Cathedral, the landmine victim selling books outside of the National Museum in Cambodia, the bumpy runway at Xian, Henrys, Leroys, railpasses, trams, SkyTrain, taking Pepto with nearly every meal in port from China to Turkey, sunset at the Imperial Palace, the only guy will to stand up for me in India being the videographer, Dean’s Memos, awkward turtle, rock gardens, tea gardens, orange trees, opera themed hotels, having an ATM card that didn’t work all the way from China until Egypt, no where in Spain converting kuna, bird watching, people watching, carriage rides, buying bracelets from every child at Phrah Khan, not having any clothes in my size anywhere in Thailand, having my dead batteries taken from me the only time I was pick pocketed, crispy mint M&Ms, nearly everything at the Dubrovnik Aquarium being labeled incorrectly, Ben Thanh Market, Kapali Carsi, Silk Market, seeing a statue of Victor Hugo in a house of worship, setting off the metal detectors everywhere in Thailand but just being waved through because I’m an American, not having to have any form of ID on any flight in Egypt, chicken baskets, Planter Spunch, Gulliver’s Travelers Tavern, bamboo rafting, retarding clocks, security checks in India at the airport, giant rifles being present everywhere in India, Egypt, and Turkey, paparazzi, cable knit sweaters, castles, Scattegories, the Union, anything but studying study sessions, unfair Global exams, leery waiter, always getting 2 desserts, the Voice, head bobbling, bowing, being from everywhere except for the U.S. in Egypt and Turkey, can-bottles, Pillow Talk, standing for a montage of photos of the king before a movie in Thailand, baksheesh, scarves, all 6 Mohammads helping lead my trip in Egypt, seeing Japanese people everywhere, being cut in line by French people anywhere they were, the quest for a Turkish bath, Black Cat Bistro, Vigor, getting saved by the hair, my new Spanish lisp, the lack of pronunciation of the letter ‘s’ in Andalucía, being the navigator, silk, Grand Theft Blanket, mashed potatoes for breakfast, mummies, crypts, cisterns, mosques, cathedrals, temples, waterfalls, learning to sleep whenever I was in transit, Sukhumvit Night Market, the Paragon, Mao watches, rumors, Boss, Can You Beat Ken?, tigers, crocodiles, snakes, being the only girl out of a group of 11 that could handle getting rid of a spider, writing the Honor Code on my exams, cramming 5 days of clothes and toiletries in a bookbag and saving room to buy other things, the line for add/drop, what did happen to September 7?, fugu, the Beijing ‘funk’, the hours spent laughing about that one time in “insert country here,” the gang that hangs out in 4048, my work out and B day lunch buddies.

This morning someone asked me what my area code was. I had to have a few seconds to think about it. Then I needed to figure out my entire phone number and my address and my AIM screen name. At home I’ll be switching from cabin numbers to addresses, from A and B days to days of the week. I haven’t known what day of the week it was since the beginning of September. I won’t be using countries as a point of reference anymore- no more saying, “Was that before or after India? That’s not to say that I’m not excited about home. I am; it’s just that home won’t be the same as when I left. No, that’s not true. Cardington will be the same. But I won’t. I’m excited to see my family and catch up with my friends, but right now the whole process of going home is a little overwhelming. Home is just going to be the next adventure.

I've tried uploading a few pictures, but the internet is too slow right now. I have around 7,500 when I get home though.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

My darling daughter...I know you will be forever changed. I have heard the changes as we have talked as you have traveled around the world. You have much to process and much that will take a long long time to come to terms with.....yet, somehow this is now all a part of who you are. It has changed your future. It has changed our future with you. Yet, you are still our daughter and most importantly you are who God made you to be. So as you begin to process this as you come home....take deep breathes, try to have patience with all of us and know that many people are anxious to hear about all you have had the most awesome privilege to be a part of.....many are eager to absorb all they can through you and yet you are not sure what is there in you. Know that we love you and we support you as you return to a part of the world that was once all you realy knew and now will look so very different through your eyes. Remember that to us it all still looks the same but we will also actually start to see it differently as you share with us your changes.

My daughter Jessica....I am forever grateful that you are my daughter and I am forever thankful that your father and I were able to give this opportunity to you. I am so excited to soon be seeing you.

Miami....Here we come,
Love ya,
Mom

Anonymous said...

i love my sister! =]

Megan said...

You're right. They're right. Coming home isn't going to be easy. But you will adjust. It will take time. After about two weeks you'll wonder "okay, this has been fun, when is the next port?", but thats really the beauty of it all, thats the beauty of Semester at Sea.... you're not supposed to come home the same person you are when you left. You're supposed to grow. And now, you'll have friends all over the United States to visit and catch up with.

As far as processing everything, I'm still processing everything over a year later. Its still changing my life everyday. Sometimes it doesn't feel like its for the better, but I promise it is.

If you need to talk to someone when you get home let me know.

Laura W said...

Jessica you just made me cry. But I'm also cracking up.

I miss you!

Chaeles Bagli said...

mann i love bird's nest soup too even IF its made from spit!!! <333

i eat it like once every monthish and used to bought from website hongkong-bird-nest.50webs.com/index_e.htm sometimes, my mom went back to hong kong and bought a full suitcase of it cause its cheaper there XD