My flight takes off tomorrow morning.

I told myself when I escaped the US that I would never go back, but here I am, flying back tomorrow. It’s only for a few days and for the purpose of surprising my grandmother for Christmas. I don‘t know how many more Christmasses she will be around for and so I wanted to do something special for her. Before I started this journey we would go for pancakes every Sunday and I would take her out and around town to run errands and get out for a bit. Saying goodbye to her at the airport and not knowing if I would ever see her again was really hard.

I’m looking forward to seeing her and my parents, and especially the family dogs, but at the same time I’m really dreading going back. I imagine that for most people, the US is just like any other country and visiting there is the same as visiting any other stable country. That’s vauge…What I mean is, the US is not a visible active war zone like the Ukraine or Syria. The very visible shit that is happening in those places, tanks, explosions, street fighting, isn’t happening in the US and so it gives the appearance that everything is fine.

I left the US because I know that, while there might not be daily, highly visible reminders, there are still a LOT of terrible things going on with that country both domestically and internationally. I’m very nervous flying back into a place I had previously escaped, like a refugee of sorts traveling back to the regime he left. The latest CIA torture reports this week remind me of why I left in the first place: the Orwellian redefining of words so they mean exactly what the powers at be want them to mean, the blatant lack of oversight, cavalier disregard for laws and ethics that are inconvenient, no meaningful mechanisms for the people to control their government, a 24hr media apparatus that constantly pulls the establishment line, and most importantly, no justice anywhere to be found. To top it all off, a public that is seemingly ok with the idea of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity as long as the people we do it to are suitably scary looking. It’s a country run by terrorists and criminals. (And that might sound like an absurd statement, but it’s something I can back up and cite)

Outside of all the angst related with going back, I’m really curious if I’m going to have a miniature culture shock. It’s the culture I grew up in, but I’ve been in Germany since February. I remember all the little things I thought were strange with Europe when I first arrived here. I wonder if I’ll suddenly have the exact reverse when I go back to the US. I’m also really curious to see if I can get a feel for the vibe and atmosphere while I’m back there. Getting distance from the US helped me also get more perspective about the place, I wonder if those perspectives will be validated when I return and get to see the place from the inside again.

I’m going back with a suitcase full of Christmas presents and an empty suitcase inside of there. I’m hoping to bring back to Germany a lot of things that weren’t practical to bring with me the first time over. I’ve also got a wish-list of items to pick up from a couple of friends. Mainly things like peanut butter, or candies, but I’ve also got somethings for myself that are difficult to find in Berlin, like vanilla extract or black beans.

Oh! I just remembered, I’ll be going “back” to a house I’ve never been inside of before. Right before moving to Germany my parents were looking at moving to a new house and ended up doing so after I left. I have yet to see the inside of it, so that will add another layer of disorienting.

Anyways, we’ll see how things go. This has been the longest continual period that I’ve been out of the country and away from my family. It’ll be interesting to see how things are when I come back.