R & R.
Rest and relaxation. (It serves as a much-appreciated break from work and the daily stresses of living abroad.)
Recovery and rejuvenation. (It serves as a much-needed break for our lungs. For a few weeks while we were in Idaho, I didn’t taste the air once!)
Running errands and retail therapy. (I definitely did my share of shopping while I was home. Neon colored running shoes, a brightly colored purse, a rainbow of tops and a raspberry-colored skirt all squished in to my suitcase next to the new tri-barrel curling iron and hot curlers, to make the trip back to the Middle Kingdom.)
But, getting home from being Stateside for a few weeks requires a bit of readjustment.
Of course, there is the unavoidable jet lag. Our original journey was to be twenty-eight hours from wheels-up in Boise to touch-down in Chengdu. After a problem with the plane at LAX and a transfer to a different aircraft, we left Los Angeles over two hours late, which caused a chain of events that pushed our twenty-eight hour trip to closer to thirty-three hours. Wheels finally met tarmac in Chengdu at 2:30AM, meaning we finally fell into bed at 3:30. The good thing about that terrible arrival time was that for the first night, there was no need to fight the sleep. We dropped our suitcases at the door and were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows. Too few hours later, my eyes popped open and I was wide-awake. Granted, 8AM is a normal time to roll out of bed on a weekend, but not when it was pushing 4AM before sleep and I were reunited.
I had great plans to battle the tiredness, trying to avoid the lingering effects of cross-hemisphere travel. Needless to say, by noon, I had given up all attempts at starting my week off on a normal schedule. I considered putting more effort into the fight, but then decided one of the great thing about being a grown-up (other than getting to eat frosting straight from the tub without getting in trouble) is I make my own bedtime. If that means the blackout curtains get drawn at noon for a four hour nap, then so be it. A comatose nap I will take! Throughout the rest of that week, I slowly pushed bedtime (and as a consequence, waking time) back later and later. A week of Chengdu under my belt and I was back to a normal sleep pattern!
It wasn’t the jet lag that was the biggest adjustment coming back though. That one is expected. It was the milk. Yes, you read that right- the milk.
While I was home, I enjoyed a lovely bowl of Marshmallow Ladies each morning. (These are the generic Lucky Charms, officially branded as Marshmallow Maties, but my four-year old niece is convinced they are Ladies, so that is what we go with.) Each morning, after filling my bowl with cereal, I turned to the fridge which always housed several gallons of fresh, 1% milk. This was milk that required refrigeration. This was milk that went bad if left on the cupboard for months (or days, or hours.) This was milk that was a perfect companion to freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
This was not China-milk.
Over our first eight months in Chengdu, I had gotten used to the taste of boxed-milk. I have a case of it delivered to my house occasionally, which sits on my cupboard. I transfer small boxes of milk to my fridge as needed. This milk is sufficient for topping a bowl of cereal, especially if I drain the excess off the side of the spoon using the edge of the bowl as a guide. It is not a respectable substitute to accompany freshly baked brownies. Needless to say, my taste buds had quickly reverted to their love of American milk upon arrival in the US and the conversion back to boxed milk has been a little rough.
Now, with my sleep schedule back to normal (normal is relative, as I am usually curled up in bed under a pile of blankets by 9PM, giving me a good hour or two of reading time before it’s lamps-out time) and my taste buds realigning to the flavor of never-go-bad milk, I’ve hit the ground running on a variety of projects at work.
Settling in may be done, but it isn’t slated to be long-lasting. The suitcases may be recently stowed in the closet, but they won’t be collecting much more than a light coating of dust. In just two weeks, Thad and I are flying to the Maldives for some highly-anticipated sunshine and blue skies. I’m already planning THAT readjustment period to include soothing a sunburn and cleaning sand from the nooks and crannies of our baggage. And if that’s “readjustment,” I’ll adjust, readjust and then adjust again!