Following up with what's been going on in my soul since returning to America, here are a few of the aspects I remember (or noted down) about the second and third weeks.
Koreans do celebrate Christmas, and they do decorate for Christmas, too, a little. Usually it's the department stores and coffee shops that put on the lights and decorations. The apartment buildings... nope I've never seen them decorated.
Coming back to America during Christmas time was like an added culture shock of sorts. (Just a little one.) I'd already been in the habit of mentally pointing out everything that seemed new, different, strange, and weird about America, and the Christmas decorations got thrown into the pile every so often. I felt like a total Grinch, but when I saw Christmas-y things, I thought, "Why are people spending money on this?"
I do know that I've been feeling like Charlie Brown for the last couple years, though. The commercialism has gotten right under my skin since my senior year of college. I've even started differentiating between the cultural community holiday of Christmas (which celebrates family, joy, and peace) and Advent (which celebrates the coming of the Salvation of the world in the baby Jesus).
That's getting off topic. The point I was trying to make was this: Christmas was weird to me, and I didn't like it very much.
The second week, I got to travel to Virginia and Tennessee and meet with some of my very good friends. They were all super understanding (and also excited to see me). They asked me many questions which were very good for me. It gave me an outlet to tell about what are currently my most favorite stories and fondest memories. They were happy to hear, and I was more than happy to tell. And, it was so great to know that someone wanted to hear about Korea. I've been worried about talking about Korea too much. I don't want to be "The girl who won't shut up about Korea," you know? What a relief to be encouraged to not shut up for a while!
The third week, I got to spend time with an older sister figure of mine who'd been in Korea for two years. She came back to the States in March. I also got to spend time with missionaries who had lived in different countries for 10+ years and who were able to talk to me about reverse culture shock and the like. Finally, got a call from my good friend who'd traveled 11 countries in 11 months. They all told me the same thing: Readjustment takes time.
It was so great to be told that it's normal to feel how I'm feeling. It's normal to have some negative ideas about my mother country after coming back from a different place. Being told that was freeing. I'm really glad that this is true.
I'm not famous anymore!
Crazy, right? But walking in my school, so many of the adorable children knew my name. They waved to me every time they saw me. And of course my coworkers knew me, and my church friends. I had a lot of friends, and a lot of people in my neighborhood recognized me, too. Heck, I'd get started at loads of times just because I'm white!
I have two friends from Korea who have since returned to Canada. The dude, Brian, told me about how he went back home after only 3 months in Korea to find that no one stared at him when he got on the Canadian bus. He felt almost offended and wanted to say, "HelLO! I'm white!"
I know exactly how that feels.
I walked into Barnes and Noble during this third week. Walking down an aisle, I heard, "Lindsay McKissick is back in town!?" Aha! I was famous again! And it felt So Good! Then I said hello to my young friend I knew from church who happened to work there. And then I wasn't famous anymore.
It's... weird. It's like going back to your college campus when only a few people remember you. (That happened the second week back, and boy was that strange!)
Speaking of, I keep thinking that people are staring at me. I know that people usually give cursory glances to people, but when I get one of those glances, I almost want them to be staring at me. Like they did in Korea. I want to be strange and foreign again.
I want to look foreign. I want to look like I'm not from Newnan, GA. I want to look like I'm from the city. I don't want to blend in with these people. So, when I go to my closet and my accessories, I almost always try to pick something that will make me stand out and look different.
(My boyfriend has suggested that I need to look deeper into where I'm holding my identity these days. I agree. But I'm not there yet.)
I want to say one more time that I'm very thankful to my friends and family for being gracious toward me through this time. Caleb took me on a photo crawl in downtown Newnan just to show me that America has good things to offer, too. I talk with him the most about these things, and he's been doing a grand job of listening and speaking truth.
We don't claim to be great photographers, but we do claim to be adventurers, and we like taking photo evidence of our alley ducking sometimes.
It was really nice to explore downtown again with Caleb and the camera. It was nice to not have to worry about bumping into a situation where I wouldn't be able to communicate due to a language barrier. It was nice to not have to worry about staying out too late and not leaving in time to take the subway before it closed. It was nice to be able to read the dinner menus with no trouble. It was weird, though, to not have CCTV cameras around to make me feel safe. (Downtown Newnan has some shady areas.)
We're working on it. We're working on getting me... better.