And, now we come to the trip home, and that magical, most-stressful of all vacations, HOME LEAVE.
The trip home was hard enough. Transporting 4 suitcases (which were starting to fall apart) and 2 cats through four airports was challenging. It was especially challenging when security kept asking us to pull the cats out of the crates so they could check the crates for drugs or something, and the cats were so terrified they’d already pissed themselves and the carriers. Needless to say, we didn’t get in smelling so sweet.
My mother had insisted on picking us up at the airport, despite the fact that we had a ton of luggage and just wanted to get a cab. We got to her car, and found it already half full of all kinds of emergency stuff (and just regular stuff.) We could only fit one person, the cats, and a bit of luggage. I still had to go get a cab!
Our first tasks upon getting back to the States:
1) Get my license renewed so we could
2) Get wheels.
3) Get a cell phone up and working.
My wife got the third one taken care of within an hour of being home, by restarting an old flip phone she had through Straight-Talk. The others had to wait until Monday, when I could get to the DMV. Thankfully, mom took me to the DMV and then to the car rental place. That made life MUCH easier. (A week into being home, we traded the rental for an old, dinged up, ugly minivan, perfect for cheaply getting all of our shit to DC!)
We spent about two weeks in my hometown, both relaxing and seeing friends and family. We’d had plans to get to some real tourist attractions (Mammoth Cave, etc.) and go to a bunch of new restaurants, but we were WAY too damn tired to do as much as we planned. There were still some amazing things we got in (Diner Food! Big pizza! 610 Magnolia!). I also got to meet my little brother’s bride-to-be, who seemed sweet but able to keep him in line. (An important skill when dealing with my little brother.)
We followed Louisville with Lexington, KY, where we saw yet more friends and both came down kind of sick. (We think it was the super-anti-malarial we had to take to “flush out our system.”) More friends! More food! Still not enough sleep and rest!
And then, the last leg, was West Virginia/Virginia. I finally got to really meet and get to know more of the Teacher’s friends, especially some of the really important ones from her childhood. We took her little brother and sister out to dinner as well, and I got to see what they had been up to.
We got into NoVA the day before my Chinese classes started. It was a long, exhausting trip, and fortunately my classes seemed designed to ease us in, rather than throwing us off the deep end. While home leave was a whirlwind, it was absolutely necessary, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to take it.