Greetings from Milwaukee, Wisconsin! My actual moment of return to the states was marked by a sort of stomach twisting I can only imagine was a gut reaction to touching down again here and fearing I’ll have to stay for a while. That odd start was followed by me being sniffed out by a very cute K9 unit, who had found the grapefruit I had had in my hand luggage, intending to eat it earlier in the day. The only real travel hitch that occurred was when I missed the bus from ORD to Madison by a mere 15 seconds…sprinting was, alas, futile, and I had to wait another hour and a half before the next bus came. Safely in Madison a few hours later, I had tea with Michael, a very close friend of mine and managed to keep myself awake until midnight (7 am my body time). I’ve been back for almost a week now and have been happy to have a constant stream of lunch/dinner/tea dates with friends from Madison and Milwaukee. It’s nice popping by for a bit when everyone has fond memories of you (and you of them), getting key life updates, and spreading seasonal cheer in the form of Marzipan loaves. Even nicer is that some of the lovely people will be following me back across the pond in a month or so!
I am looking forward to the All-Academies Ball, a dance at the end of December to recognize the service of those in the various United States military academies. My younger brother Richard is a merchant mariner at the USMMA in New York, home for the holidays as well and we’re looking forward to dancing the night away with each other and our dates! Celebrating New Years in Madison with most of my closest friends will be lovely as well, as Erika and Kara (both English teaching assistants in France and Japan, respectively) seem to be on similar non-USA-oriented life paths.
A word about that — the whole “life path” thing — I’ve constantly been asked the same question while catching up with people here. Everyone wants to know 1) how I like what I’m doing, 2) when I’ll be back in the states again, and 3) what I’m going to do next. My answers? 1) I now know I can’t be a full-time teacher. The regularity of the job’s routine bores me, though the students and the challenges they present do not. 2) I can’t say. Theoretically I have a return flight booked through the Fulbright program for August 22nd, 2011, but I won’t be making any promises as to my plans after the 10 months of teaching are up in June. 3) I won’t say. Just think of it as me keeping you on your toes…
So, what next? Peppermint tea has been drunk, the yearly tradition of seeing the ballet The Nutcracker can be checked off the list, and our Christmas tree has been decorated. Now I’m off to put the finishing touches on presents and attend the obligatory Christmas Eve service with my family before opening the gifts tonight in a decidedly German fashion. Tomorrow my family and I will be volunteering for the fifth year in a row, preparing Christmas dinner to serve at the Ronald McDonald House (a place for families to stay while their children undergo treatment for life-threatening illnesses at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin across the street) .
The luxury of being able to be with family and friends for the holidays has solidified the fact that although I have a consistent craving for change, there are traditions I will always enjoy coming back to. Here’s to that comfort; I’m hoping you find some of your own this holiday season. Frohe Weihnachten!
[After reviewing this post, I realized I left out one key detail. I feel you should know that seeing the rising sun hit the snow-covered mountains on the southernmost tip of Greenland is a spectacular sight, even through a small plane window. That is all ^_^].