Literally! I left Beijing at noon on December 5th, which is 9pm Montana time, so I woke up at midnight the night before and stayed awake so I'd be able to sleep on the flight back. In order to ensure I actually stayed awake, I didn't start my packing until roughly 3AM, and as an added measure put the suitcases on my bed so I wouldn't be able to lay down. The first hour or so was really hard -- my eyes kept wanting to close on me. After that, though, I was fine - Kimberley was also awake packing, so I went to her room and watched for awhile, and then went and actually packed up.
Getting to the airport and everything went smoothly, as did my flight back to the US. In the Beijing airport my bags got manually searched, and while they were searching them I was able to have a conversation in Chinese with the one agent about what/where I was studying, how long I'd been in China, things like that. It was a really nice reminder of how far my Chinese had come since I got to China. We landed in Seattle at 6:30 AM on December 5th, and that's when the funkiness of time zones hit me - I had left Beijing 6 hours after I arrived in Seattle! My layover in Seattle was 4 hours, which was more than enough time to get through customs, get a gingerbread latte (!), and kill some time on the moving walkways (much to the amusement of my fellow travelers...I should consider growing up sometime soon!).
Our flight to Salt Lake was delayed for 30 minutes, because of fog at SLC, and then when we were almost to Salt Lake we got placed in a holding pattern (apparently for an hour - I dunno, because I fell asleep) due to the fog, and then were redirected to Twin Falls, Idaho, because the fog wasn't lifting. Twin Falls had an airport half the size of Bozeman, and there were ten other planes that had also been redirected because of the fog. This led to the most traffic the airport had in years, meaning they were delightfully overstaffed, and a slightly amusing situation that seemed to fit the perfect situation for a romantic comedy/psycho thriller/Christmas comedy movie. So anyway, I spent something like 5 hours there, until the fog lifted and we got to go back to Salt Lake.
By the time we got in there, all the flight to MT had left, so I got to spend the night in a hotel in Salt Lake. As I climbed into bed at 11:30pm, I realized it had literally been the longest day of my life - something like a 38 hour day? :) I finally got home the next morning, and I've come the conclusion that home is the best place in the world. :) It's really weird to be home, it feels like I never left! I may post some more entries on my last couple days in Beijing, reflections on my time there, and what it's like coming back, but they may not be consistent - I fully intend to spend the next week or so just sleeping, eating, reading, and skating. :)