My trip home could truly be described as a whirlwind of activities, people and places. How I managed to fit so much in such a short period of time, I’m not sure, but I know I wouldn’t have been able to see everyone I did and do everything I wanted without the help and support of my amazing parents! It’s so evident how much time and effort they put into making my trip home perfect, for which I am so grateful.
I arrived in ATL to a wonderful welcoming committee made up of Mom, Rachel and Lauren. Dad was traveling, but it was great to be reunited with some of my favorite ladies! When dad joined us the next day, we were able to enjoy some family activities. Among these included a fun photo shoot in an attempt to replace our last family portrait with amore current one, an tough mudder that lived up to it’s name in every aspect, and lots of time spent cooking, eating, shopping, and generally enjoying each other’s company. I was happy to be able to workout at Lauren’s box, Crossfit Breaking Boundaries a couple times that week, to offset some of the less-wholesome foods I guiltlessly enjoyed while home. This was made even more exciting because I had new workout shoes – crossfit nanos that the family bought for me! How blessed I am to have such a generous support system.
Three words that come to mind when thinking of living in Shanghai are: pollution, busyness, and dirty (and I mean that in the most endearing way). I realized I need the complete opposite of this while vacationing in the states, so Rachel and Lauren and I planned an incredibly short vacation to the one place that would satisfy this desire: Florida. The bright blue skies, clean white sand, and incredibly relaxed vibe of the beaches on 30a were exactly what I needed. Although we were only able to stay for roughly 36 hours, we were able to enjoy the beautiful beach and some nice margaritas in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The five-hour car ride also gave us some valuable time to catch up (mostly lauren and I… Rachel was preoccupied… with sleep).
Suddenly, my time in Atlanta had come to a close and I had to leave my gorgeous house and adorable dog. Now it was off to Ohio, where I would (finally) enjoy my graduation commencement ceremony with my family and spend some time with my best friends. We left Thursday morning and arrived that evening, upon being reunited with my friends there was a lot of jumping, hugging and tears (we are quite the dramatic group). As it usually is when seeing best friends after a long time apart, we effortlessly fell back into the routine and relationships of when we were all in school together. It felt great to be able to revert to college-girl mode, if only for a couple days. Sunday came and we enjoyed a pleasant brunch in the Short North for Mother’s Day, and then it was off to graduation. The weather wasn’t too harsh and it was awesome to walk in the Shoe with my peers (and there were a lot of them… 2015 boasted Ohio State’s largest graduating class in the history of the school!). Since I had technically already graduated and received my diploma, it wasn’t a hard decision to dip out after a wonderful commencement speech by Archie Griffin. The family had lives starting the next day in Atlanta, and the sooner we started that long drive the better. Before we officially departed, we got to spend an invaluable albeit short time visiting with some of the Ohio family. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Annette’s house while we caught up with her and Wendy. It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to see the rest of the family, but as Annette said when I mentioned how short our visits usually are, “I’ll take what I can get!”. The family dropped me off at the hotel I’d be staying in by the Cincinnati airport before my flight left the next morning, and it was pretty hard for me to say goodbye to my parents and sister. I felt so happy to be able to spend time with them but I also felt that it was so unfair that my time with them was short. Of course I know this is silly – I have been blessed with a wonderful opportunity and I do love being in Shanghai, but having to leave my family will never be something I want to do.
As by now I would consider myself relatively experienced independent traveler, I had no trouble getting from my hotel, to the airport, to SFO. The flight was easy and I was so glad to arrive in sunny California. Grandma found me right away and we briefly caught up while waiting for my checked bags. She and Grandpa and I went to My Tofu House for lunch –where we had amazing soondubu(lol at that spelling) and seafood pancake. We arrived at Aunt Soo’s beautiful palace of a house, and having a couple hours before any of the family arrived, Grandma and I decided to walk off our huge lunch. We were looking for the best way to get to San Francisco Crossfit –one of the original 50 crossfit boxes that was conveniently located just a mile from Aunt Soo’s home! The walk through Presidio was breath-taking, filled with gorgeous lush greenery that I had been missing in China and enjoying the duration of my time home (it’s funny the little things you notice and appreciate after being without for so long). We found the box and came home to Mila and Niya, who are absolutely as cute as ever. That evening we had another delicious Korean meal cooked by Grandma, and the wonderful company of all my cousins, Aunt Soo and Aunt Jinee, Uncle Scott and of course the Grandparents. The next day I woke quite early to get a quick workout in at SFCF and I got to spend the rest of the day exploring beautiful San Francisco with Aunt Soo and the Grandparents. The next morning was nothing but an early departure to SFO to catch a direct flight to PVG.
Now back in Shanghai, there is a lot of evidence of my trip to America – new clothes, a fresh tan, and lots of pictures. However, when I think of my trip, the evens that I hold closest to my heart are not the shopping trips, tanning or photo ops. Instead, I reminisce on the evening spent outside by the fire pit, eating Dad’s famous hamburgers (that he altered to fit Whole30 – that support system, I’m telling you!) comparing bruises after the tough mudder. I think about watching the mommy and daddy wren beginning to build their nest on Annette’s porch while Oliver and Mac run around the huge backyard in the warm sunshine. I recall my conversations with Kade and Callan and remember my surprise at how much they have evolved and matured even since seeing them just months ago. One of my favorite parts of the trip was sitting around the dinner table with Aunt Soo, Aunt Jinee and Grandma, just talking. During this time, Jinee commented that I exhibited personality traits that reminded her of mom! As the child who has been a ‘mini-me’ of Dad for her whole life (which, don’t get me wrong – I love) this made me really happy. I love being told that I am my parents child!
Although I am half way around the world, I am comforted by the fact that I have family and friends all around the world who love and care for me. I know that no matter where I am, no matter what endeavor I happen to be taking on, I will be supported! What else could a girl really ask for?