Thursday, May 29, 2008

Back in the States, Start in Seattle

I'm back! I can't believe it's been over a year since I stepped on American soil. I've seen so many things while away, and lived such a different lifestyle that things that seem so normal over here now seem foreign to me. Do you notice how many over weight people are walking around this country? I do! Do you stare at people with blond, and red hair? I've been staring at those people like they've got two heads lately. Is it me or are there homeless people asking you for money on every corner? That's what it feels like to me, and they're not even trying to sell you souvenirs. What about young Asian American kids who speak perfect English? Boy does that one throw me for a loop. After traveling Asia I espet ebery persum of Ashan decent to have a wittle dipperent speaking style, but then a 10 year old tells me "I am pleased to meet you, and I'd love to chat but I have to work on my calculus homework." I feel like a kid again. All things look new, and all things taste new. noo one ever told me that the food tastes better when you get back home. All the things I'd been craving early in my trip to Korea, but then forgot about after I settled in, all taste like I'm eating them for the first time in my life all over again. I've announced to others that "these are the best oranges ever!", "the chicken sandwich at that bar was amazing!", "I haven't had a bowl of cereal this good in my life!" and the list goes on: Strawberries, pasta, burgers, fries, etc... they all taste amazing. It's as if my taste buds were let out of prison and are enjoying the freedoms they once took for granted. But the food is just our regular, ordinary, run of the mill American food. Usually drenched in grease, salt, or butter, and you know what I realized? I love it. But it's not just that. American food has tons of "extras". You don't eat a ham sandwich. You eat a ham sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cheese, salt, pepper, mustard, and mayonnaise. Those little add ons are the things I didn't realize I had been missing, but now I can't help but recognize them and thank god for them every time I bight into my sweet sweet American food. I've heard some people say that when returning back to the states they felt the food tasted "artificial" and didn't like it after a year of eating natural and healthy food in Korea, but I'm here to tell you that there is nothing artificial tasting about a flame grilled burger, and when you deprive yourself of them for 13 months, your sensory system starts doing cartwheels when you reintroduce them. I've basically been on a high every breakfast, lunch and dinner since getting back, who needs drugs when you have a fat juicy steak?

Where was I? Oh yeah, Seattle. I had been wanting to visit Seattle for a while because my brother Kevin moved there a few years ago. So I figured why not now while I'm not tied down. I can fly into Seattle and then make my way back across the states stopping wherever and seeing whatever I want. I'd never traveled America and once you get to KOREA and people ask you about famous American sights, in my own country, and I have to say "I don't know, I haven't been there" they kind of look at you like your crazy. I mean who travels around the world to KOREA without seeing their own country first? I guess I do, but I think I appreciated America's beauty and differences a little more this way. So, anyway, that was the plan. Fly into Seattle, and travel across the country. Sounds pretty well thought out huh? Yeah it wasn't. Where do I start?

My flight from Hong Kong was basically one of the worst experiences of my life. Somewhere in between my snorkeling, volcano hiking, and villa living in Bali I was bitten by a super powered Indonesian spider. Not unlike the spider of the famous Marvel comic book "Spiderman" but instead of giving me super powers it gave me a super swollen, itchy forehead. I was so uncomfortable, I wanted to scratch my face off, but I had to sit in an airplane seat for 10 hours and try and look normal even though I looked like Hasim Rahman after his fight with Evander Holyfield. I did actually make it without going insane, and when I stepped out of the Seattle airport I realized my first mistake. I had packed my backpack for over a month of travel in Sunny Australia, warm Hong Kong, and tropical Bali. The cold misty breeze of Seattle rain was not something my short, t-shirt, and sandal wearing self was prepared for. After all of my brothers stories about hiking, boats, and other outdoor activities in Seattle I just kind of figured it was warm...I am an idiot.

So as if that wasn't enough, the icing on the cake would be that the first full day I spent in America in over a year was spent in the Seattle Washington Emergency Room. A real welcome spending that special day with some of America's finest in an over crowded waiting room while I was still in a case of extreme discomfort. The doctors didn't have a clue, and I couldn't help them much. Before the bump got all on steroids I just thought it was a mosquito bight. They gave me strong antibiotics and medicine for the itch and told me to pray. I was bed ridden in my brothers apartment for the next week. I considered buying a plane ticket to my parents home in Tennessee and canceling the whole trip. I don't know why I didn't do it, but I'm so thankful I decided against it.

I did come out of my funk, with only a few scars. I have less eye lashes today than before my trip, and a small section of the top of my head is missing, but overall I think having a permanant reminder of not giving up on something you want to do isn't such a terrible thing.

Seattle turned out to be a blast. My brother has a bunch of awesome friends out there, who I'm lucky to feel like they are kind of my friends now too. The city is pretty, has lots of things to do, yet also keeps a sort of homey feel. I walked around the city, went hiking, saw some sights, spent some time with some cool people, watched the NCAA Tournament Finals (Oh glorious March Madness), and saw a tulip festival. This was the first stop on a long American journey and it had it's road bumps but overall I'm so glad I persevered through it. I loved seeing my brother and his wife out there. They really love Seattle, and I loved being there with them. Also, the food wasn't bad either :)

Check it know the drill.