In the past I've been able to straddle the two cultures of Korea and and America. When we boomeranged back to the states to visit during vacations, it was easy to dismiss anything we didn't like, remarking, "Well, I actually live in Korea." In Korea it was the same way. When there was any cultural difference, we could always say, "I'm glad I'm American."
Before we could dismiss all and subscribe to none. Now we've moved back to the states and we've committed totally to this experience. That's okay; it's what we've signed up for, but there have been a few surprises.
Right now we're living in southern Utah, at my parent's place until we procure housing of our own. The other day I left the front door open as I was getting Gavin ready for a walk when I heard Kat yell from the hallway, "Nate, there's a snake in the house!" This is something you definitely don't hear in Korea. It's also one of those folksy saying you imagine that the homesteaders must have said frequently like, "Dagnabbit, the cow's loose again," or, "Grandma fell down the well again." But this was true; there was a snake in the house-- a small black and red banded garter snake. After some gawking and general amazement, I was able to scoop the reptile in a dustpan, plunk it in a bucket, and release it away from the house. Once again, this a truly south-western American experience; something that never happens in Korea.
We've also been looking on-line for deals, things to help us furnish the house. The first thing we saw on the Cedar City Buy and Sell Facebook Page was a tripod mount for an AK 47. I've always questioned American's need for semi-automatic assault rifles, but then again, how are you going to dispatch the snakes in your house without an AK? Definitely something you don't see in Korea.
Last, Kat and I have been house shopping. The first day of looking at houses was disappointing. We were realizing that we would have up our price consideration, when we looked at the last house. The layout was nice, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, stone fireplace, walk-in closets-- oh, and it tested positive for methamphetamine (I did not realize a house could test positive for methamphetamine). Apparently the last tenants had been meth users and left the place in a bit of a mess. You know those pictures of the people before and after meth use? Imagine that applied to a house. Still it was the best place that we saw. I started doing my homework, to find out how to decontaminate a house that tests positive for methamphetamine; however, someone swooped in, made a bid, and stole our meth castle from underneath us. It's alright. We found a different meth free house.
So the above experiences makes it sound as though our time back hasn't been too great-- with the snakes, and the guns, and the meth-- but the opposite is true. We have been having a great time. We've met a lot of great people, we've taken Gavin out a lot, and basically we've started our new lives.
Korea was wonderful. That land and its people helped me gain a profession, a wife, a child, and many amazing experiences. Do I miss Korea? Not at all. I miss the people there, but 7 years was more than enough. It came as a realization a year or two ago that we were pining for the familiar, the stuff we grew up with, the meat and potatoes of our existence. It was a slow dawning that it was time to stop straddling, that it was time to come back home-- home to all the good, the bad, and the in-between.