2005.01.27 Seattle, USA

Seattle seems much the same. I had expected to experience that reverse culture shock which comes upon returning home after long periods away. It has been over a year since I was last in America but everything feels pretty well as I left it.

There are subtle details that strike me, but nothing that unusual. The air here is really clean. It seems that everybody around town walks about wearing an employee badge dangling from a lanyard. Many vehicles have large stickers on the back depicting a folded ribbon. A few are yellow; most are red, white, and blue. Freedom isn't Free! or I Support Our Troops! seem to be common slogans printed on the stickers. I've found myself gauging prices by converting dollars back into Chinese yuan to be able to comprehend the amount.

My immediate family are largely the same but a year's time has made a lot of difference with my nieces and nephew. It's been fun to spend time with them and see how they've grown. All of them seem much more expressive than when I left. My brother Gregory has two daughters, one of whom wasn't even born when I was last here. I went ice skating with my sister Jennifer and her children Nicholas and Robin a couple days ago.

I've spent my initial days staying with my sister's family. I plan to move over to friends Mala and Vega's house tomorrow. It's been good to catch up with family; I'm slowly starting to call on friends around town. Every night finds me revisiting some favorite cafe, bakery, or restaurant. I don't think I once thought of snickerdoodles in Urumqi, but have become excited seeing them available various spots around town. I'll be having Ethiopian food for dinner tonight.