It was always going to be a rollercoaster.
Imagine the joy seeing your family for the first time in a year. Imagine the amazement watching your niece feeding herself, walking and talking, when she was just 7 months old last time you held her. Imagine the joy rediscovering your own city, a city you love, through travelled eyes.
I had imagined it while I was travelling, but hadnâ€™t anticipated how quickly I would slip into the groove. Even at Heathrow, waiting on my flight to Glasgow, everything was astonishingly familiar; seemed recent. Within minutes of my welcome hug at Glasgow Airport, it felt like Iâ€™d only been gone a couple of months. Lugging my backpack out of the airport, for the last time this trip, I was welcomed by a light rain shower; the only welcome I was expecting from my beloved Glasgow.
For a few days, I basked in the warmth of my family, then began making arrangements to catch up with friends; beginning my brief sojourn as a lady who lunches.
Spending time with loved ones around Glasgow has brought such pleasure. Continuing in the tourist vein, I revelled in the displays at the Peopleâ€™s Palace, particularly the photographic exhibition from 1955. I followed the ghost of my student days around Glasgow University and West End lanes, taking a trip through the Mackintosh house and Hunterian Museum, chuckling at Glasgow humour in A Play, A Pie and A Pint at Oran Mor. I drove across the squinty bridge, compared the Armadillo to Sydney Opera House, ate a floppy sandwich on a bench in George Square, admired the new Silverburn shopping centre and inevitably, sat in traffic on the M8. I basked in intermittent sunshine in beer gardens, ate in favourite restaurants, chatted for hours over coffee. I took off into the countryside, introducing my New Zealand hiking boots to Scottish mud. I felt hairs stand on the back of my neck and head-to-toe goosebumps as I joined 60,000 Celtic fans singing â€˜Youâ€™ll Never Walk Aloneâ€™ on European night.
I need to come home from a round the world trip more often.
Most of the time, I feel exhilarated by the possibilities ahead of me. I have no idea where Iâ€™m going to be living and working in just a few monthsâ€™ time and that is exciting. I know what I want my life to be like, but donâ€™t know how close Iâ€™m going to get. My life turns a corner shortly and I canâ€™t see around the bend.
Thatâ€™s exciting. But itâ€™s also a little scary. Sometimes the uncertainty overwhelms me, making me freeze and stumble and think about it all too much. Sometimes this train of thought makes me feel distant from the people I love. I canâ€™t quite communicate the immensity of the experience Iâ€™ve had, the growth Iâ€™ve experienced, the challenges Iâ€™ve overcome, the confidence Iâ€™ve gained. I struggle to explain the tumult of emotions, from joy to sadness, that have accompanied my return home. I try to explain the array of options Iâ€™m looking at and how I plan to make choices, the tingling excitement and stomach-churning trepidation as I try to second-guess which opportunities I can turn to reality. I try to manage my natural inclination to get things moving quickly, every cell straining to get on with it; try to allow a slower, more organic process of coming home, one that allows me to adjust.
I think of my trip; trains in China, jeeps in Tibet, jeepneys in the Philippines, those wonderful Laos buses, Tuk Tuks in Thailand, motos in Cambodia, the Battambang Norry, the Champasak car ferry; it feels like a world away.
I think this is called reverse culture shock.
The coming weeks and months hold surprises for me; new opportunities, choices to make, different ways to learn and grow, to have fun, to be sad, to make happiness. The next stage of Jacâ€™s Journey.
In the meantime, Iâ€™m a lady who lunches. Give me a call!