Wednesday, June 5th, 2013. 12:22pm Central Time. A United Airlines flight touches ground in Omaha, NE. Jessica Boschen is on board. She has just finished traveling for a day and a half on planes and sitting in airports from halfway across the world. She has completed a school year as a volunteer teacher on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa.
She grabs her carry-ons and walks into the terminal. She stops, unloads some ulas, takes a deep breath, and feels a smile come to her face. She walks out past security. She sees bright signs that say "Welcome Home" and "We Missed You." Butterflies fill her stomach a bit and her smile widens as she walks up that ramp toward her best friends in the world. She hears Sarah say "It seems like she's walking so slow." The party waiting for her all had butterflies, too. Her mom gives her a big hug, first. Then, a hug each from Karena, Sarah, Cassie, Aunt Kristin, and Cousin Becca. As she hugs each of them she places an ula around their necks. Then, they all just stand a bit and greet one another as Jessica finds herself shaking a bit. Good, though :-)
She is back in Nebraska - her first home...
Many people asked me as I was leaving American Samoa if I was excited to be going. Well, yes... I was excited to see my family and friends. Yes, I was excited for a change of pace. No, I would be sad to leave some friends I had made. No, I would be sad to leave the mountains behind. NO, I would be sad to leave some of my students. Those are all part of my answer, but simply put. Yes, I was excited, but I wasn't wishing time away. I am content with my life and try to live day to day. Each day is a new journey. Always something to be happy about. It did feel good to hug my friends and family for the first time in nearly 11 months.
Aunt Kristin was snapping some photos as I arrived. First some photos hugging my girls. Cassie and I:
Sarah and I:
Karena and I:
Here I am putting the ula aroud Mom's neck after giving her another hug. You can see my "little cousin" Rebecca standing on the left. She's not so little anymore. Almost as tall as me, but she will always be my "little cousin". :-)
Karena's younger sisters helped her with the signs. I am so blessed to have such great friends that took time out of their days to come welcome me back home. I've missed them, and I was beginning to feel anxious and excited about seeing my welcoming party when I arrived.
Mom promised Dad she would have Aunt Kristin take a picture of us and e-mail it to him right away. Here we are:
Got one with my beautiful Godmother, Aunt Kristin, too.
Mom, Aunt Kristin, Becca, and I found our way to a Panera for some lunch. I enjoyed a cup of garden vegetable soup with pesto, a little bagette, and an apple. This was the first time for all of my companions to enjoy the deliciousness that is Panera.
We also made a little trip to Kohl's. Becca was looking for a dress for her confirmation, and I was looking for a dress for Cousin Seth's wedding. We both found something, and Mom and Aunt Kristin also found some things they liked. All clearance or sale items, too. Bargain shoppers :-)
On to my Omaha house we went. The home of Joe and Nancy Eagen - my Omaha parents. The parents of two of my best friends - Kyle and Sarah. We all just hung out at their house for the afternoon. This is exactly what I was hoping for. No big "welcome home party" or craziness. Just relaxing and doing what we do. It felt just like yesterday. My friends Matt and Jessie even made it over. Here is most of my Morningside gang. Love these characters. "Reunited and it feels so good" began to replay in my head as we were hanging out. Matt and I beat Kyle and Cousin Becca at bags (bean bag toss). Almost a whole year, and my rhythm came back. ;-)
Mom, Aunt Kristin, and Becca headed back to Newman Grove after our little dinner, which included some grilled vegetables and cabobs. The friends and I just sat around then for a while chatting. Just like old times. These are the kind of friends one hopes to have in life. Those who you can be away from for a while, but coming back together is as easy as pie. Just like yesterday. :-)
We did also make a trip to Nebraska Furniture Mart, where I had purchased a new compact camera online. As you may recall the one I had for years passed away while I was in American Samoa. I was excited to pick up my new one. It's a shiny blue, too. :-)
The girls all know that exercise has become part of my lifestyle, so I awoke to find that Cassie said she would go running with me if she wanted. All four of us girls decided to go on a little route around the neighborhood. More walking than jogging, but we were getting active. I did a round of squats, knee lifts, and jumping jacks after we made it back. I also ran a bit more than the others. It was fun to go out on a group walk/jog, though. I haven't had an exercise buddy in a while, minus my awesome Zumba class of course.
Then, we enjoyed a healthy breakfast together. Some ate some cereal, everyone had some fruit, and I had a small glass of almond milk with my fruit.
We made a trip to Plato's Closet late Thursday morning to look at the clothing. It's a consignment shop. Each of us found a few things. I was in search of some pants, as I don't really have any that fit anymore. The night before I tried on some of Sarah's and Karena's to find I could actually squeeze into them. Woah. We're the same size! That's crazy! I found a pair of black jeans I liked. The last time I bought jeans I was wearing size 12-14, depending on the brand. This pair I bought Thursday was a size 8. The one other summer I had exercised regularly and substituted meals with protein shakes, I went down to a size 10.
I asked Sarah to take a picture of my jeans to photograph this moment of wearing a pair of jeans for the first time in at least a year. She took one of everything, but my head. I kind of like it, though. My creative photography brain enjoys it for some reason. I've been into some of my more creative photos lately.
We ate lunch at the Hu Hot, the Mongolian Grill after that. Karena had been itching for some Hu Hot for a while. Sarah thought there was one right near Plato's, but then it wasn't there. We wandered around for a while, found a new address, Karena's GPS took us to the wrong place, and then mine finally got us there. haha We were more hungry by the time we finally made it there. Good food, as usual. Always fun to walk through the uncooekd buffet, throw whatever you want into the bowl, and then hand it to the chefs to cook up on the round grill in front of you.
It sure was chilly in there, though. Too much A/C, man. Too much. I wasn't the only one chilly, either. haha. I suggested we make some coffee when we made it back to the houe. Sarah made a whole 10-cup pot. Each of us enjoyed a cup, and we sat out on the deck. Two o'clock in the afternoon coffee with the ladies. One made the comment how we were sitting around like old ladies, and then Cassie added we might as well play some bridge. hahaha Loved sitting around, chatting, and enjoying a cup of coffee. Some creamer, some a little caramel, and mine straight up black coffee.
Cassie went to meet up with some of our other friends as they are heading to Chicago this weekend fora wedding. Karena headed back to Lincoln later in the afternoon as she is working Friday. Sarah and I went and did a little shopping with Nancy (Omaha mom), including some groceries. Joe grilled up some burgers (including a boca burger for me). Some nice veggies and pasta salad on the side.
A few grapes, too. I did have another banana bar and a blonde brownie. Something Sarah had prepared for the little gathering the day before. Good little dinner, and then I decided to work on my blog before heading to bed. I need to catch up on some sleep.
A few little things I found myself thinking about this first day back in Nebraska.
1. It's a bit weird being able to leave food out on the counter for a while and not have black ants swarming it in minutes.
2. Being back in a car going 50 miles an hour in Omaha is really not as weird as some think. Just fell right back into. I haven't driven yet, but I'm not worried.
3. My multi-tasking brain is getting more exercise again. haha
4. I could go jogging down the street and not have to think about if there were any stray and/or vicious dogs lurking about.
5. Spring is barely here in Nebraska. Granted it was still snowing on May 1st. I'm not really cold or anything, though. Born and raised in this stuff. Living in 90 degree weather all year didn't make me a pansy. haha
6. I haven't been paying good attention to where we park the car when we are out and about. I was so used to just catching the next bus, walking, or crawling into the back of a truck. haha
This will be the last post on the Boschen in American Samoa blog, but I have decided to continue with a general blog. Thank you all, and I hope you have a great weekend! If you are interested in my new general blog, you can find it here: http://jrboschen.blogspot.com/ To fa soi fua ma manuia le po. (Good bye and good night.)