Trips as long as the one I just took are interesting because after a point, it doesn't feel like vacation anymore. You create routines, pick favorite restaurants and meals, get to be recognized in coffee shops, and know where the subways intersect without having to check the map. And then it isn't until right before you leave that you realize you're comfortable with where you are and what you've been doing.
I had that moment of realization; that voice in my head saying, "This is it. This is your life now." And I'll admit, I'm missing the little life I created. There's a feeling that comes with immersion into a completely unfamiliar culture and I'm not sure if I can quite put it into words. Things were difficult there, not speaking the language. I felt so helpless and a little scared and I was constantly trying to grasp onto something - anything - that felt familiar enough to give me a starting point. There was a learning curve I knew I would never surmount, but that was what made the little victories feel so good. The first time I managed to order coffee without help or without pointing at a menu provided this bizarre adrenaline rush. It feels like working towards something tangible and you can clearly see progress when it's made. I haven't figured out yet how to find that feeling in my real life.
I've been back in America for a week now and I have to say, this has been one of the longest weeks of my life. Between jet lag, illness, and reassimilating into the hectic day-to-day, I feel like I've been back a month (at the very least). Perhaps it's just post-vacation blues, but I've come back with a feeling of discontentment. I finally had some space and time to evaluate my life. The scary truth is that while I still have no idea what I want in the long run, I don't think I'm supposed to be doing...whatever it is I'm doing.
We'll just call this my existential crisis and move on.
On today's episode of Where In the World is Alyssa, I have for you the second installation of Beijing photos. This includes such locations as Dazhongsi (home base), Costa Coffee (on second thought, maybe this was home base), Wudaoying hutong, and the Summer Palace. The title of this post translates back to the most important sentence I could have learned to say: I am a robot.