OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Wednesday 25 June-The Last of the “ExPat” entries)—Back in the USA. Back in the groove. Back to intolerable politics and extreme views. Back to delicious burritos. It’s a long way from Smetanova Street in downtown Vsetín in the Czech Republic to the West Coast of the New World. On Wednesday, 25 June, I left a beautiful country to return to a beautiful country, my own. When I awoke on Wednesday morning at 2 am at the Roma Hotel in Malá Strana in Prague it was raining. The darkened  empty streets reflected the street lamps giving it an almost surreal look. My taxi trip to to Vaclav Havel airport passed by some of sites I had come to know on my last visit to Prague. It was too early to reflect on a year away and too early to check in to the first leg of my long and varied 20+ hour flights back to the West Coast of the US. It had been decided earlier this year that I would go to Portland Oregon to spend some time with my pregnant daughter and her hubby. The idea was that maybe I would go through the jet-lag quicker so that by the time I arrived back in California on Sunday I would feel more normal, although I’m not sure what “normal” really means.

When I arrived in Portland we didn’t have any agenda to visit this or that which was fine and dandy for me. Just hanging with my daughter and going to exotic places like Target, Fred Meyer and Michael’s to find craft supplies was exciting enough. Then, of course, it was the Game of Thrones marathon. While in the Czech Republic, my friend Marcus got me hooked on the show with season four so I had to find out how all this started, hence beginning with season one. We managed to view season one and 7 episodes of season 2 before we ran out of time and it was time I flew home. I’ll catch the rest later. I actually couldn’t think of a better re-entry to the U.S. than the rainy afternoons in Portland viewing GoT and watching Sarah do her craft thing for the baby’s room.

Saturday (28 June)

I started writing this on Condor flying over Greenland at 36,000 feet but fell asleep so I am now writing on Saturday morning in Portland Oregon. I know it’s way after the fact but landing after many delays and a surprise extortion fee from Condor for carry-on in Frankfurt I am beginning to feel normal. But as I said above, this is a relative term.

Monday (30 June)

The Pacific
The Pacific

I guess my concentration is not quite up to par yet since I tire quickly and stop writing in the middle of a thought. Now it is Monday in Menlo Park, California. I arrived yesterday at SFO on the last airplane ride for a while and am forcing myself to finish at least, this part of the story. I was met by my wife and sons at San Francisco International as I dragged my carry on behind me. It was great to see them and it seemed to all of us that I was gone only for a weekend or so not 10 months. A visit to the Pacific Ocean was in order so we did that traveling to Pacifica and Taco Bell on the beach. The weather was warm but not hottish and there were tons of people surfing and playing on the beach. I missed the ocean, any ocean when I was in my land-locked country so it was comforting to see it again. I didn’t quite realize just how much I missed it until I saw it again.

Seeing my wife and kids boosted me out of my daze of traveling and it was a good thing. We both remarked how odd it was like I never left. I guess Skyping and emailing somehow shaved off the the time gone. But in-between the Skyping sessions a whole array of experiences took place. I learned what I was able to do and what I wasn’t able to do by myself and each experience had it’s pluses and minus’s but it was all good and more importantly, worth it. I will miss (and am missing)  the people who, over time, became my friends, and I know I would be welcomed back in the Czech Republic. That is a good thing too. I had found a place in Eastern Europe where I think I could live and feel comfortable, but it isn’t home and it isn’t where my family lives. I ultimately belong here, in the U.S.. And at the end of the day, home is where the heart is and this is my home and this is my family and this is where my heart is. I don’t know what new adventures await, but the up coming birth of my granddaughter is a great place to start the next adventure.

I am home, and I am content. (A reflection on the past year is coming soon)

and so it goes…