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Published: March 5th 2011
Outting with friends
on Capitol Hill, Seattle.
While our transition back to the States was made easier by family and friends in Seattle, three months in Southeast Asia caused noticeable reverse culture shock and major jet lag. It is hard to describe why we adapted so easily to such a distinct set of cultural norms; however, upon return to our home, we were feeling a little out of place.
There are two things we can pin as being part of why we felt this way. The first was how we were living. After months away on our own, we were back around others we knew, making plans and coordinating schedules. We had come down from the high of our honeymoon and being able to spend such amazing, quality time with just one another, without much responsibility to anyone else. It was a simple way to live and for the time it was wonderful.
The second was the different way of life. It was all in the small things; from the cheap and delicious street food that is readily available, to the clean and affordable accommodations on every corner. Overall, we found Southeast Asia to be a safe place with well mannered people who believe in karma
Hanging with Nolan
(we're only in practice mode)
as a means for personal accountability. Even though we had an inability to understand the languages around us, it actually made daily interactions an interesting challenge.
On the other hand, our timing coming back to Seattle could not have been more perfect. Just a few days before our return, we received a message from Aaron’s mom saying that Alan Jack, Aaron’s paternal grandpa, was not doing so well. Ajax, grandfather to six, father to three, and a husband for over half a century was slipping away from his family. After a series of illnesses over the course of a few years, Ajax had finally decided that it was his time. We arrived in Seattle on Thursday afternoon and immediately went over to Patty and Ajax’s house.
We were greeted by Aaron’s uncles (Dave’s brothers), their families and Aaron’s Grandma Patty. Everyone seemed to be happy to be together as Ajax’s process of passing had been a long time coming, but there was definitely sadness in the air, as it was clear that he only had a little time left. Ajax had been asking about us, and Dave had told him that we were coming back from our honeymoon.
Dean, Zach and Z and Elisha's new little guy, Nolan at 3 months old.
When we saw him lying in bed it was obvious that his body was slowing down, but we were fortunate to have a nice conversation with him. Ajax and Patty had also done a lot of traveling in their time, and Aaron commented that we had aspirations to surpass the number of places they had visited over the course of their lives. With his sense of humor in tacked, Ajax remarked that we would never get as many pins on the map as they did, and he even asked us about our trip. We were able to tell him that we loved him and when he asked what we were going to do next Aaron gave him the 5 year plan. We left that evening with mixed emotions.
Over the course of our week in Seattle we visited Patty and Ajax three more times. Each time Ajax was slipping deeper, and it became evident that this was our last time with him. We came and went throughout the week, feeling lucky to have been able to be part of such a significant time.
We also had the opportunity to see many other family members and friends while home.
We were able to visit Aaron’s childhood friend, Zach and Elisha and their beautiful new baby Nolan. We also had the chance to have a group outing on Capitol Hill where so many of our friends came out to meet us. We caught up on sleep after a tremendous amount of jet lag and tried readjusting to the American way of life. We ate home cooked meals, enjoyed the comfort of a familiar bed, and took a lot of brisk weather walks. All the while we were home, Dave and his brothers were taking turns sleeping over at their parent’s house caring for their Dad as he grew weaker. Combining a desire to honor their father as well as channeling skill and emotion, the three boys used their time to construct a beautiful custom casket for Ajax. Patty made light of the situation asking if she could keep it for herself, and Dave reassured her that they would build her one too, to which she chuckled.
Wednesday night, the night before we were scheduled to leave for San Francisco, we had dinner with Dave and Peach at an authentic Thai restaurant. At the end of our dinner Dave received
news that his father had passed, and we immediately went over to the house to be with the rest of the family. We were received with hugs and teary eyes. Ajax passed away that evening surrounded by people who loved him. While it was sad, it was also inspiring to see the love and support that everyone was so willing to give one another. We felt so lucky to be part of such a meaningful process with a strong, amazing family.
With love in our hearts, we said our goodbyes and headed to San Francisco. We were greeted at the BART station by our friend Patrick and spent our first day running around eclectic Berkley. That evening we had the pleasure of joining the Smetana’s, our friend Daniel’s family, for an amazing home cooked dinner in Orinda, sharing stories and photos from our trip. The next day we went in to the city and met Seth Merrill, a friend of Laura’s from high school, for lunch on the Embarcadero downtown. We walked around and enjoyed the sunshine before heading to the Mission to see Emily and Eric Krauss Grossberg. We spent the next two days eating, perusing the markets,
Aaron & Patrick
on Berkley campus
and sitting in the Mission Dolores Park. It was glorious. We also had the good timing of seeing Aaron’s other grandparents, Bob and Stephana, as they passed through San Francisco on their road trip. Sunday night we met up with our friend Arielle for a great walk and some Asian cuisine before checking into the San Francisco International Hostel downtown.
Our next few days were spent meeting up with Seth, Emily and Eric. We also had the pleasure to visit Laura’s high school friend’s house, David and Maggie Yeager, and meet their new baby, Scarlett. We reunited with Panama connections, Matt Sweeting and his wife Robin, and had a chance to see our friend Sebastien. We had so much fun catching up with old friends and enjoying all that San Francisco had to offer. With our recent encounter with death we were reminded that our days on Earth are numbered and for us life is all about relationships. Thus, we feel grateful that we are able to continually stay in touch and spend quality time with the people we love.
Being in Seattle and San Francisco was such a treat. The comfort of friends and family is enough
to help anyone readjust into society. We are constantly reminded about how lucky we are to have so much love and support on our journey. It is humbling to be surrounded by such amazing people all the time who inspire and encourage us to do great things with our lives.
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