Returning: Wait….It’s August but I’m still in America.

When we left SA it was cheaper to buy a round trip ticket then a one way ticket. KLM just notified me that our return flight to SA is coming up in a few days……it feels strangely odd to be here, I’ve over stayed my summer holiday, is it time to pack up the suitcase, last minute shopping, fill the extra bag with supplies?

It’s August 3. The last time I was in America during August was 1988. 31 years. I was a grad student in Boston. Corey was 1 and Jared was yet to arrive. We’ve had thirty (30) July trips to JFK or Logan, or Albany (en route to O’hare). Trips always made in July, often dropped and farewelled by Rhona’s parents throughout the 90’s and 00’s. Flights in July – 4 to Israel, 17 to Indonesia, 5 to Ghana, 4 to South Africa. Flights thru hubs of Tokyo, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and onward to our homes overseas. I know my favorite early morning coffee/snack routine while transiting in Schipol, never enjoyed changing planes in Narita, avoided Frankfurt when possible, always thrilled to land in HK, especially at the old Kai Tak airport (until 1998 when the new airport opened up). Who can forget flying into Hong Kong just above the rooftops with the hard right turn before landing. The signature flight path into Kai Tak. But, of course, Singapore and Changi Airport was the destination that, for 17 years, signaled we were close to our Jakarta home. Anyway, that was the rhythm of our lives – becoming masters of managing jet lag, early morning arrivals, late night departures, late night arrivals, early morning departures – and of course, the regularity of afternoon delays at O’hare! Our flexible sons managed the odd and long hours of travelling, the check in lines, the luggage carousels, and the taxi rides. We always approached our imminent return trip with a sense of adventure and anticipation of the year ahead.

This will be a strange month. My international school administrator colleagues and friends around the world are back at it, re-energized and preparing for a new school year. Teacher colleagues and friends are savoring the final days before opening faculty meetings with the traditions that first days bring. This is the final holiday weekend for many, next week, back to the routine. I always loved the first days of a school year. Honestly, I will miss it.

So, this August will be very different. Not returning to work and having the absolute luxury of time is very different. It’s exciting but daunting. I avoid the word “retire”. I feel oddly young to consider myself retired. Rhona refers to it as “refiring”. I appreciate that term. I consider this a “gap year”. There is much to explore, understand, and embrace. And we’re doing it in new surroundings with countless and rich offerings. It promises to be such a different routine. I feel lucky.

So, as so many of my colleagues/friends close out their holidays, post pics and stories on FB, and head off to various airports for those return flights to overseas homes, I’ll be here in western North Carolina, nesting, checking my FB feed, adapting in our return while trying to find the humor in it all, hiking on Wednesday mornings, and thinking about you!! Rhona is the nesting engineer! Me, I’m in charge of the cardboard boxes, recycling, and making sure the trash is managed carefully. Oh, and I also make the coffee every morning.

By the way…..we bought a Toyota Rav 4 Hybrid. Not the pick up truck I’ve been talking about for the past year! The hybrid won out……the Toyota over the Ford (sorry Virginia , ) I loved the car recommendations from an earlier post!

Bring on August!!

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