Well, I made it. Four flights, a 12-hour layover in Malaysia, and severe food poisoning on the second leg from Malaysia to Tokyo – so severe in fact that, desperate as I was to get home to my family, I gave serious thought to checking myself into the nearest Japanese hotel just so I could get my, well, shit together in privacy. So I could moan through the labor-like stomach cramps out loud, not stifle my pain through yet another 9-hour flight. Fortunately I hit the peak of agony during the layover in Malaysia so that I was able to board the flight and fall into a broken down, comatose sleep for the entire flight. The entire flight. I didn’t speak more than three words to any of the 7 various flight attendants that were trying to attend to me in business class. Some might say, “oh, what a waste of business class.” I say, if it weren’t for business class and I’d been stuck in COACH for this nightmare, I surely would have had a mental and a physical breakdown. Anyway, combine that with a delay that forced me to lie, cheat and steal my way through Customs, Immigration, a terminal change and another security check in 45 minutes at LAX, it should come as no real surprise that I started crying once I was safely on that final leg to Colorado Springs and the tears really didn’t stop until I was in bed that night. At the point of finding myself in that last, blissful seat, I had all but given up on seeing my family anytime in the foreseeable future; the feeling of knowing I actually would in just a few short hours was overwhelming. In case you’re wondering if the trip was worth the last day of suffering, that is a definite affirmative. It was also worth every mosquito bite and close encounter with all species of reptile in Southeast Asia. But it certainly gave me that extra bit of perspective upon returning home to familiar surroundings. Home really is where the heart is, even with all its imperfections, not least of which is clutter. Like the random bath toys all over the master bathroom, or the 2 weeks worth of mail that needs sorting, or the fridge that needs purging or post-its all over my desk. Note: this is in no way a criticism of household management when mom’s away. I came home to an impressively clean house and a sparkling vehicle. These things are in my face every day of the year, but they make home home. And I realize now more than ever how much I enjoy the harmless clutter – it reminds me that I’ve built a life here and a crazy, messy family that I absolutely adore. Without them my home wouldn’t just vaguely resemble a Pottery Barn catalog (minus the toy kitchen in the middle of the living room and the white dog hair on every surface), it would probably BE the Pottery Barn catalog. And what fun would that be? Sure, I would enjoy it for awhile, but we live in the mountains at 9,000 feet so it’s not like anyone actually ever comes over anyway. And furthermore, I think it’s time I admitted that I actually enjoy cleaning. It gives me a sense of control when I feel impotent in every other arena of my life. When the annual Real Simple Cleaning issue shows up in my mailbox and it’s the highlight of my week, it’s probably a good time to admit my cleaning habits have reached hobby status. So there you have it – I’m home, I’m grateful and I’m very, very content. The slew of Balinese massages didn’t hurt – I counted, there were 7 total.