Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Post-Trip Saga

Anytime I've travel overseas, I go through the same post-trip reactions.

Phase 1:
(Breathe in air outside of U.S. airport with some forced pride)  Wow, I am so glad to be home. Commence the sleeping time. 

A conversation with a friend at that point might sound like this.
friend: "Andrea! You're home! How was {country}?"
me: "It was amazing! I'm so glad to be home."
friend: "Any stories?"
me: "Yes... there was this one time.. when (insert random, inside joke with self laughter)...well, one of the girls... you know, I'll just tell you later."
friend: "Cool. Glad you're home safe."

Phase 2: 
Even though I'm still waking up at 4 a.m., I love {whatever country I just visited}. I am going to go through all of my photos for hours and hours and make every single friend listen to every single story, even though they probably don't care nearly as much as I do. But this thought never crosses my mind. I am still in post-trip, jetlag, half-of-my-brain is still eating rice and beans mode. Sadness creeps in a little here and there, but there's always the photos...
me: "Friend! I've edited my photos! Want to see them?"
friend: "Sure!"
me: "Ok, this one is of Tommy when he went into the wrong house. It was Susan's house and.."
friend: "Ok, wait. Who's Tommy?"
me: "Oh! He's so funny. He's one of the missionaries there."
15 minutes later
me: "... and this one is of that mountain again, except this is at sundown."
friend: "the mountain that Susan climbed and lost her boot on?"
me: "Yes! {insert annoying inside joke giggle here.}
two hours later
me: "And this is one of the boys from one of the villages. I don't remember which one. But he's cute."
friend: "mmhmm."
me: "And this, this... oh man! this is a funny story.."
friend: "I really probably need to go home soon."
Phase 3: 
The United States is an awful place to live. Everyone is vain. Money is the worst thing to ever happen to this planet. God has left us. I am doing nothing to help the world. I am a terrible person and so is everyone I know. I have no purpose for my life here. Someone give me a bed to cry in for a few weeks.

I don't talk to anyone during this phase.

Phase 4: 
(This is about where I land 6 weeks after a trip. Which is right about now...)

Whoa. I flew on a gigantic plane to {country}. How cool is that. I miss them. That was an amazing trip. And I made it home. That alone is pretty amazing. 

Once I hit this point, it's good for me to remember. To acknowledge. To carry the beauty of what I heard, what I saw, what I experienced back here. Bring it back to my home. My conversations. My drive. My heart. It's all part of the same symphony. 

So I keep their notes. Displayed. Where I can see them.

I sometimes just stare at the words, without even reading. I look at the way they write their "k"s and "v"s. I try to hear their story. I remember their faces. The girl who wrote me the pink note is the one in the photo just above. And I remember her. Her voice. Her grace. Her love. It keeps me tied. Connected.

Beyond the humor. After the grappling for what life looks like after traveling, these keep my heart tied with them. Small links in a giant chain that pulls against depravity and injustice for love and change, justice and mercy. These are my links. Shining, strong and they keep me here. And there.

Amazing, right?


  1. I know what you mean! I'm not great at sharing all the stories when I get home though, I almost go straight to the introverted mode. I was actually surprised at how much less my own family & friends asked specific things about my trip than I thought they would.

    I like it here and there are blessings and family and all that good stuff but I know what you mean. Other countries seem to have more of a community, connection with others, less judging, more laid back pace but still hard working, etc. I've been thinking I haven't been out of the country in a while...hmmmm. I would love to live in Asia! Would just have to get my little family on board.

  2. (there is something oddly comforting to me about seeing african handwriting. have you noticed they all pretty much have the same penmanship? amazing. and feels like home...)