-Arden Hills, Minnesota, U.S.A.-

Right now I am sitting in the living room of my parent's house, my childhood home, with my laptop on my lap, listening to the latest Portishead album. Tonight I made hamburgers and watched the Twins game on TV. I have been back from traveling for about two weeks now, and I have quickly fallen into old habits. I haven't ventured too far from this chair in the living room since finishing my last stop in Paris. I am slowly working through a list of tasks and chores that I have created for myself. My list isn't that long, and I probably should have finished up with it days ago. As I told a friend the other day, it is a fine line between patience and laziness. But I think I earned it.
I experienced many emotions in Paris. From Kuala Lumpur I flew Kuwait Airlines to Kuwait to Rome and then finally deboarding at Charles De Gualle Airport in Paris. Firstly, not to go into too much detail about the frustrating stuff; I had issues with their ATM system, using French pay phones, my credit card, and my bank. It was all resolved eventually, but pushed me to new stress levels I had not experienced while in Asia. But overall, past the banking problems, The City of Light was an amazing city. I tried to get to as many of the museums and exhibitions and sights as I could, but also made an effort to slow down and sit sometimes. Sit and observe. The thing about Paris that intrigued me so much was how social it was. People everywhere in Paris are conversing, debating, romancing, singing at all times. I found it very refreshing.

I flew from Paris to Chicago via Dublin on June 9th. After getting into O'Hare, I took the train to the Greyhound station in the downtown area of Chicago. What a place! Every kind of person in America had representation at this bus station: young, old, gay straight, punk, goth, gangster, black, white, Native American, Hispanic, boring, eccentric, even Amish. The only people I didn't see were anyone obviously rich. I was standing there looking around at the people around, that microcosm of American diversity, not really thinking about anything except the diversity in that bus station. With the exception of Paris and maybe Kuala Lumpur, I had spent the last 6 months in mono-cultures. In India, all Indians. In Thailand, all Thais. In Nepal, all Nepalese. I don't mean to simplify their cultures because there was diversity within every country that I visited, but I was not able to discern so obviously the differences of people as when I stood in that bus station. Never once in any train or bus station in Asia did the word "diversity" creep into my thoughts. But when I stood there, waiting for the bus to roll in, I had one of those moments where you stop what you are doing, the volume gets turned down, and you just say to yourself "Wow."

I am still digesting my trip and everything that I have done and seen and experienced. For me to analyze it here, well, I can't do it. To run down the list of everything I did, everything I saw, all the people I met, here on this journal, is kind of a waste of time I think. It is still manifesting itself within my brain and within my soul. How I feel about all of it now probably will change, so putting into words here, now, doesn't feel right. You'll have to ask me when you see me in person and then hopefully I will be able to articulate it properly for you.
Sample conversation: You: So how was it? Me: Good. You: Did you enjoy it? Me: Yep.

How my travels have changed or affected me is another question you'll have to save for later.

I don't think I am going to write on this anymore. Not for a while anyway. Back when I was in Thailand, riding the train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, I got an idea about writing about South Dakota. Not South Dakota specifically, but...I 've got an idea for something to write about that I may post on here coming closer to the end of summer/early fall. I doubt more than 5 people read this entry, but you'll have to check back later and maybe there will be more. More stuff about traveling in the U.S. though. Thanks for keeping up with this little experiment of mine.