I look back at my post from a little over a year ago, before my trip to Britain, and I can chuckle about how simple a 3 week vacation in the United Kingdom is in comparison to a year-long relocation to the Middle East. Today, my last day in the United States, has been filled with the endless bureaucracy of the mover: calls to AT&T to cancel service (after sadly giving back my iPhone a couple days ago), to my banks, and, joy of joys, to the Department of Health to find out what sort of vaccinations I should have gotten a week ago. Thankfully, they got me in this afternoon without much hassle and I got some nice 3 inch long needles of Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever in each arm. With Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” ringing in my ears, I journeyed off into town to try to find adapters for Middle Eastern power plugs.

On my way out of town, I happened to pass by the old Karate America, where I got my first-degree black belt over nine years ago. My instructor, Steve Godfriaux, gazed at me through his office window as I came in, motioned me in and stared in me in wonderment as he extended his hand. He was a little more grizzled, a little more gray, and a lot more mustachioed than he had been in my middle school days, but his handshake was as bone-crushingly strong as ever (thankfully, my arms were still numb). On my last day in the country, it was great to catch up with the man who for five years was an integral, charismatic, and dynamic part of my life. He asked me what it was that I thought I had gained the most during my time as a student in his studio. “The ability to seek and embrace change in my life,” I told him: my soon-to-be international employment being the most obvious example!

Not much remains to do now, with 14 hours before takeoff. A few more clothes and computer-instruction books to pack, my last dinner with my family, and a brief rest before awaking in the wee hours to get a ride into Janesville with my parents (saying goodbye to them at the Van Galder bus stop) and be at O’Hare before the recommended 2-3 hours before the flight.

This time tomorrow, I’ll be chasing the horizon and somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, in’shallah.