Welcome “Home”

San Francisco, United States — By on November 23, 2008 4:48 PM

My flight from Sydney to San Francisco not only returned me “home”, but I also returned to me that day I lost when I went down under a year prior! When the plane landed in SF I couldn’t believe I was home, or at least I was back in the city I had called home for the five years before I took off to travel. According to some paperwork I filled out at a doctor’s office recently I am technically “homeless” since I do not have a consistent place to sleep each night. That made me a little sad but also made me laugh as it seems I am going to be homeless for the next few months!

My good friend Mary was kind enough to offer to pick up me up from the SFO airport. Mary was happy to see me but perhaps not as happy to see my 210 POUNDS of luggage that she and I struggled to lift and fit into her car and which cluttered her apartment floor for the next week! While I traveled most of my trip with only a small 47 liter backpack that always weighed between 12-15 kilos. I had also left a big bag in storage in Sydney and I had accumulated and stored new stuff from my 6 months in Australia…apparently heavy stuff!

The day of my departure, Danny and I had quite the fiasco at the airport in Sydney. I was so thankful he drove me to the airport and helped me with my luggage crisis! Apparently there are new rules for maximum bag weights…. bags that weigh over 32 kilos (70 pounds) are not allowed to be checked. I knew one of my bags was quite heavy, but I had no idea it weighed 45 kilos (100 pounds)!!! I was prepared to pay an overweight fee but I was not prepared to be told I could not check the bag…PERIOD! My only option was to buy a third bag and take some of the weight out of the heavy bag…so I ended up paying an extra bag fee which was about $100 and much cheaper than mailing stuff back internationally. OH, and genius me, the world traveler who has flown many times the past year packed a bottle of champaign and two bottles of my favorite sweet chili sauce in my CARRY ON BAG!?!? What was I thinking??? The security peeps were thrilled to find my liquid items! In hindsight, I wish I would have poured everything out in the trash can so they couldn’t benefit from my stupidity. By the time all my luggage issues were sorted, I barely made it to my gate in time. Everything was better once I realized I had three seats to myself meaning I could lie down and sleep comfortably on the long flight home!

Throughout my trip I had mailed several packages back to the states via sea mail which took 3-4 months to deliver ,but was the cheapest option. I was excited that four of my packages had arrived and were waiting for me at Mary’s house. It was like Christmas opening the packages and seeing all the souvenirs and gifts I bought that I had forgotten about! I didn’t want to overload any one friend with too many packages as I know that apartments in SF don’t usually come with lots of storage space! So I actually sent packages to three different friends who found it very amusing when they were all talking one day learned that they weren’t the only one receiving my packages! Did I say I have the best friends in the world? Miraculously, all of my packages except one has arrived…I am missing a package filled with cute wooden bowls from Vietnam, I hope it isn’t lost in the mail! My really cool hand carved wooden Buddha head arrived from Laos!

Being that I can sleep anywhere, anytime…I slept the last 8 hours of my 14 hour direct flight arriving in San Francisco jet-lag free! My friends had planned a “Welcome Home” Happy Hour for my first night back at one of my favorite spots…Elixer. It was SO great to see everyone and a little overwhelming at the same time! I seriously have the best friends in the world! I hadn’t seen most of my friends for an entire year, while a few of my friends met up with me in various countries to spend their two week vacations traveling with me. I was happy to hear that Aine had fully recovered from the Gibbon Experience and the Slow Boat in Laos! I was also happy to finally meet my friend Mary’s boyfriend Mike and realized he is well worth the enormous cell phone bill Mary incurred while talking to him for hours long distance when we were in New Zealand!

We spent the night hanging at my favorite spots in my old neighborhood, the Mission District in SF. As we were walking down Valencia Street we were stunned to see a man bleeding from his stomach as it seemed he had just been shot or stabbed. It was scary and I thought…”Welcome Home to America!” There have been several times since I have been back that I have realized that I actually felt safer traveling through Southeast Asia than I do at times in the states!

Everyone commented on my tan, which is sadly fading more each day. Many also seem to think I lost alot of weight and wanted to feed me! I blame my weight loss on a suspected tape worm; however, I do admit that I didn’t eat so well in SE Asia and I was very active as well. I got my Mexican Food craving satisfied with a big burrito from my favorite burrito place and my friend Jody and her hubby made me authentic Mexican food…YUM! I couldn’t stop eating guacamole! My friends took such good care of me from feeding me to giving me a place to crash… I felt like such the welfare case! Again, the best friends in the world!

I was back in San Francisco for only two weeks which flew by before I knew it! My social calendar filled up quickly with lots of fun events including a book club meeting, dinners and nights out with friends, and many fun concerts. I had so much fun playing and dancing in the city with the ones I had missed so much. Sadly, there were many friends I did not get to see when I was in town, there just wasn’t enough time! One of the funnest days I spent back in the bay area was spent wine tasting in Sonoma on an unseasonably warm day! My friend Aine hooked us up with her Limo connection and we cruised through wine country in style!

There is so much I have missed about San Francisco. I use to love to go down to the Ferry Building, get a coffee from Peet’s, and sit on the Pier enjoying the view of the bay. Aine and I spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon doing just that!

While traveling I sometimes worried that I was missing out on things back home and the city I had come to love so much would be very different when I finally returned.

Now that I am back I realize that some things are different… friends have new boyfriends, some are engaged and some even had babies, housing prices have gone down, the economy is in the toilet…but all in all San Francisco seemed to be the same in many ways as when I left it. As always, there is a protest going on…this visit it was regarding Prop 8 and protesters had shut down many of the main streets in the city one weekend. On my way to Dolores Park one day I saw these two guys in dresses and asked if I could take their photo. I was happy knowing that the city is still as crazy and colorful as ever and never ceases to shock me and give me a reason to say…ONLY IN SF!

I find that I generally can adapt to changes and new situations quickly…so I am confident I can adjust to being back in the real world without too much trouble. What I did not expect to be so overwhelmed by choices…America has SO many choices! I was with a friend at Noah’s Bagels and felt overwhelmed by my options and asked the woman working behind the counter to pick a bagel for me.

All in all I found myself feeling quite overwhelmed and full of emotion those first two week back home!

To see photos of my time in San Francisco CLICK HERE!

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