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  • As I get farther and farther away from the time I spent in China and getting closer and closer to the time when I will return, I can feel the hands of time slowly turning....

    The memories are slowly fading - people's names, the names of restaurants I visited, the dangers exaggerated, the loneliness and heartache being skipped over, the experiences becoming more and more Romantic.

    As I tell and retell my stories of eating strange foods, seeing unbelievable occurrences in daily life, and learning Chinese, I see the twinkle of interest in people's eyes slowly fade with each passing day.

    They don't quite understand - how could they? They didn't live overseas, they didn't experience the difficulty in getting breakfast, buying groceries, having no family or old friends around, or having to drink a gallon and a half of beer in order to help you survive the spiciness of the food you just ate. (However, THAT is a story for another day!)

    You grew up over there. You learned what it was to truly rely on yourself. You learned the true value of friendship and what it can bring to your life. You experienced real homesickness, real loneliness, and a burning desire to overcome them and immerse yourself in the world around you.

    You developed a strong emotional bond with that place - one that cannot be described. Although you spent a relatively short time there, it became home. It became your life.

    You came back forever changed, and when you arrived "home," much of everything was the same. You left part of your heart over there, and until you go back, you won't be quite whole again.

    How can the two parts of you be reconciled?

    "Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth?" - debated last words of Simon Bolivar
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