1. I’m totally going to wear these Thai fisherman pants back home.
I haven’t worn them — out in public that is. Not once. Nor my Japanese kimono, Korean hanbok, Middle Eastern abaya… I suddenly want to host a Disney themed ‘It’s a Small World’ party.
2. I’m going to use my Korean language skills all the time.
Mostly only at Korean restaurants. And while I was applauded like an adorable baby seal blubbering its way to land for attempting even the most basic Korean phrases while actually living in Korea, back home my gallant efforts are thwarted by the bored second-generation waiter who rolls his eyes and responds in English with ZERO accent, “So what do you want?”
3. By golly! I’m going to visit a museum in my own city. Why not?
Do I really want to spend my Saturday hanging out at the local Maritime Museum? Nah. Besides, I live here. I could go anytime. I’ll just go next week.
At the time of this writing I still haven’t marveled at any crusty old seafaring relics, but then again there’s always next week.
4. My home peeps are going to be so excited to see me.
Yes, they will!
Providing I don’t ask them to pick me up at the airport. I get it. If you have the means to travel the world, you have the means to take a cab, or to finally learn how to navigate public transportation in LA.
5. I’m going to start using public transportation.
I have no idea how to ride a bus in LA. My visiting New York friend once suggested we take one to Santa Monica. We sat next to a guy who smelled like a saloon and muttered to himself like he was chewing his face off. We never did make it to Santa Monica.
6. Friends and family will want to hear ALL the details of my international escapades.
In my experience it’s gone more like this:
Them: How was your trip?
(Hmm… how to sum up six months?)
Them: Cool. There was this killer sale on duvets at Kohl’s. You totally missed it.
7. They’re also going to appreciate my handmade photo album.
Who makes actual physical photo albums anymore? I was kind of asking for their mindless, eyes-glazed-over thumbing through of said archaic medium. I mean, there’s not even a ‘like’ button to click, so they can feign interest.
8. I don’t need the new iPhone. I don’t need anything.
I once saw a couple of naked children playing with a cow and some sticks from a bus window rolling through the Cambodian countryside. Don’t worry. They weren’t beating the cow — it was all very amicable. The children squealed with laughter as they waved at our bus. How happy they were with what appeared to be nothing. Meanwhile, I sat surrounded by modern flashy comforts: air conditioning, iPhone, clothes. But when was the last time my sweater and I squealed that hard? I don’t need all this stuff. Just give me some laughter, love, friendship, imagination, two sticks, and a cow.
Then I come home and discover the new iPhone 6 is out! No doubt, I’ll soon want a 7.
9. I’m going to get a real job.
Define real job.
10. All my new travel mates and I are going to rendezvous in Morocco in five years!
We didn’t. I think we’re still FB friends though.
11. I’m not going to return to the S.A.D. diet. (Standard American Diet)
What can I say? We’re a hearty people with ambitious portion sizes. It doesn’t take long to gain back the 10 pounds I lose whilst swimming, hiking, and sweating my way through South East Asia. It’s a good thing I have those baggy Thai fisherman pants. You can fit two full-grown humans in one pair! But that’s another story and one that’s not entirely appropriate.
12. I’m not going to drink so much.
It turns out I drink just as much wherever I am in the world. Maybe this one has more to do with ‘delusions I tell myself about a budding alcohol addiction’ rather than ‘delusions about returning home.’ Something to consider.
13. I’m going to throw the best Spanish/Thai/Vietnamese/Arabic dinner party ever!
While I did take a Thai cooking class in Koh Phangnan, I spent more time watching two chickens scratch at the dirt floor of our kitchen hut. We were stir-frying some of their avian brothers and sisters for our curry, and I wondered if that was weird for them, or if we were some kind of culinary sadists. Also, exotic country-specific ingredients are hard to come by. Especially when you only know the foreign name for them, that you can’t say anyway.
An easier option is to take your friends to a Spanish/Thai/Vietnamese/Arabic restaurant and point out the best dishes with an authority bordering on arrogance. Make sure to point out how the food is good, but not as good as in the actual country. People love this.
14. I’m going to really put my new skills as a Thai massage therapist/belly dancer/Hapkido yellow belt to good use.
I gave my friend a Thai massage. Once. I sometimes wear my jingly belly-dancing skirt while I do dishes. If I ran into a pack of nefarious street youths, I’d be more likely to implement the ‘duck-and-cover’ strategy I learned in elementary school for earthquake preparedness. But I would mention loudly that I am trained in the ancient martial art of Hapkido.
15. I can’t wait to get home!
I always romanticize my homecoming. All the things that will be different! All the friends I’m going to see! The In-N-Out burger I’m going to devour! The bubble bath I’m going to relish!
24 hours later:
Everything’s the same. Friends are busy. Never made it to In-N-Out. Bath got cold, and I got bored. Start to wonder where Zanzibar is… I can’t wait to go to Zanzibar!