Going on holiday in a place you spent your entire life after being away a while is a revealing experience. It isn't as much a holiday as it is a surreal dialogue with your past, a whirlwind countdown which begins the moment you touchdown on the runway, frantically attempting to cram as many moments as possible into the limited time you have available. Almost cold turkey, you put your newly established life on hold to encounter the parallel, more established life you almost forgot you had due to the time and distance separating the two. But before I go off on an overly-dramatic, metaphysical tangent about this whole thing, I'll provide a summary of my experiences there.
The anticipation had been building since October when I first moved to the UK and I remember thinking at that time how far off May 2009 seemed. I had been away from California for nearly seven months before returning for the first time in May so naturally I had a lot on my agenda. From talking with other expats here in London, it seems the common goal when returning home for the first time after being away is to see as many people as physically possible. This means
brunches, lunches, happy hours, dinners, and night caps pretty much everyday (and a lot of calories later). These were organized neatly around other major events we had going this week; Lily's grad school commencement ceremony at Cal, our subsequent family dinner, our wedding celebration reception, and a family reunion (four generations of every living member of our family).
To save the reader the agonizing detail about each meeting we had, I will simply say that we were successful at seeing a lot of people who are very important to us. There was one instant where Lily and I hadn't seen each other all day, met in San Francisco for a happy hour with friends then had to rush off to a dinner in Berkeley with other friends. By the end of the night we just went home and crashed, only to wake up to rush off to brunch to meet a couple of friends yet
again. At that point, we realized that we had not had a chance to actually catch up with one another the entire week since I had landed back from London. This was the pattern for pretty much the entire time of my ten days back home. In fact it wasn't until we went to Turkey after leaving California that we were able to actually spend some quality time together. However, if I am making this sound remotely negative, my intent is completely opposite. The first trip back is a truly magnificent opportunity to spend time with all the people who mean so much to you.
It was an opportunity to truly catch up and learn what all of our friends and family have been up to over the last several months. In fact, I really tried to avoid conversations about my time in London only because time was so limited and I wanted to get the update on what was going on with everyone else. To be honest, I also get a little tired of repeating the same stories again and again.
Combined with the other big milestones in our lives, the wedding celebration at Orson in San Francisco (one of Elizabeth Faulkner's restaurants), Lily's graduation and her own farewell to California, meeting two new members of my family (my sister's youngest son as well as my cousin's first child) and seeing my grandmother as well as my entire family, it was an amazing week of laughter and memories. While I didn't have the opportunity to properly catch up with everybody as much as I would have liked, it was wonderful just to see all of those faces again, especially at our reception where we were able to combine so many of our friends, colleagues, and family who spanned all the different years and phases in our lives.
After a couple of pints in Burlingame with my Dad, Lily and I hopped on a plane back over the Atlantic to London to spend a quick half day before flying out to our honeymoon in Turkey. In retrospect, the first trip back was fantastic and I thankeveryone for all of their love and support through the years.
Lastly, Lily and I want to express our sadness for the passengers and loved ones of Air France Flight 447. Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers and their loved ones.
P.S. Photos forthcoming via email soon.