I’m married. I am a husband. There are still moments where I catch myself surprised at this concept. After the holiday that my wife and I took in South Africa, there was a lot to process. We got married, reunited with family and old friends, and even managed to sneak in some moments alone where we could. We were hard-pressed to improve on our holiday to Seattle, but our month back in South Africa may just have done so. I mean, we will only get married once, so it has that going for it.
Our holiday was split into three main stages: pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding.
The pre-wedding stage was mostly spent in preparation of the big day. We had meetings with flower arrangers, decor organizers, the reverend who officiated our service, and others that I have forgotten because it was all a frantic blur of checking, double-checking, and making sure one more time that everything was exactly as we wanted it. Between the meetings, we had little time or energy to see those closest to us who had been waiting to see us for almost two years. This was disheartening for Kris and I, but we knew that the sacrifices would pay off in a truly great wedding day.
And boy, did they. Some people say you judge a wedding by how many things went wrong. The most serious thing that was off-colour was the bridal bouquet – they weren’t a colour that Kris liked. That just made her more than happy to throw it away at the reception. Everyone we’ve spoken to since the wedding has had nothing but kind and enthusiastic words about their experience. All in all, the wedding was truly one of the greatest days of my life. It was a happy, joyous celebration of love spent with friends and family, and everyone had a wondeful time. I couldn’t have asked for a better ceremony or reception.
Post-wedding, most of our time was spent trying to see as many people as we humanly could. We had breakfasts, brunches, lunches, afternoon teas, dinners, post-dinner teas, drinks, and all-day gaming sessions with anyone who expressed a desire to see us. Of course there were people we missed out, and we were a little disheartened by that, but we did the best we could.
By the end of the holiday, we were quite ready to be alone in our apartment with our cat for a while. We had spent our time putting ourselves out there more than your average woman of the night, and it was glorious. It was heart-warming to see our old connections again. Some relationships had changed, but most had remained exactly where they were when we left them.
One phenomenon that Kris and I both noticed in ourselves towards the end of the holiday was that we had begun to long for the friends that we had made in Korea. Facebook posts of gatherings were met with a pang of jealousy, even though we were going to be spending the day seeing five different groups of people. It is a feeling that we thought would be more prominent in expats – no matter where you are, you always miss the people that you left behind. If you’re engaging in your work abroad, you miss your family and childhood friends. When you return to visit your family and friends, you miss those friends that you made while living abroad. No matter where you are, you’re always missing someone. Luckily, we weren’t away long enough for these feelings to detract from the bliss of being newly married and seeing a bunch of old friends and our families again.
When we went through the gates to return to Korea, waving back at relatives, we weren’t breaking down like we were the last time we left that airport. We weren’t a young couple heading abroad to see what the wide world held for them. We were leaving as husband and wife (still weird to write/hear that), returning to our job and blossoming life on the other end of the planet. We don’t know when we’ll return to South Africa, or under what circumstances, but we eagerly await our next month of seeing more people than we can count and getting fat on beloved South African food.