It is amazing how familiar I have become with the passport and customs area in the Seattle airport. My luggage always seems to be in the last group off the plane; I don't know why. But it gives me plenty of time to observe the people around me and process what it means to be back in the U.S.
My first observations this time through were mostly that my good friend, Katie, wasn't with me (as she has been for years flying into Seattle from the ME) and that I had no cell phone to call people and tell them I was nearly home.
Secondly, I noticed how tall everyone was. I'm used to being taller than most women and just barely shorter than the men. At 5' 6", I'm a very average height in the U.S. It just felt like all of a sudden I was surrounded by very tall men and women.
Thirdly, there is a relaxation and at-home-ness that I feel even in Seattle. Seattle is hours and hours away from my final destination, but I could drive there if all other transportation failed me. That, and all the airport personnel speak English fluently. This, too, is a relief of sorts. The only downside is that my blond hair no longer gets me special treatment. =D
It is nice to see family and friends. The U.S. is beautiful and comfortable and easy, but I am an alien and a stranger in this world.