In a very unexpected way, coming back to Kengesh felt like a homecoming. Kuban and Zahara both gave me big hugs and I got a head bump (a leaning in and tapping of temples when handshaking) from Sultan. My language still needs work, but it was immediately clear that it was miles ahead of where it was when I left. That first day back it almost felt like we were speaking a new language together.
I quickly got back into the old routine of meeting my language group every morning at the corner and walking to Krasnaya Rechka for daily classes. Man, it’s good to see everyone again.
As familiar and comfortable as it feels to be back in Kengesh, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to suddenly find myself back in the States. How crazy will it be to return after two years? I can almost imagine how reverse culture shock is a thing.
That first night back, I chatted with the family (not exactly with ease, but much less difficulty than I had ever before) about life in Talas, my host family there, the things I’m doing, the people I’m meeting, but mostly the food I’m eating. I settled back into my old room and fell asleep with all the sounds I had spent two months getting familiar with.