Thursday, June 01, 2006

Almost home

We're back on American soil. I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I'm glad to be back on the ground in any country. The plane flight back was...... horrible. In a lot of ways. I don't even want to talk about it, really, I'm just glad it's over. We did meet a very sweet college student from South Carolina who had been living in France for four months. That was the nice bit. I'll try to remember that and move on.

When we finally, after hours and hours and hours and hours and..... you get the idea.... of breathing airplane and airport air..... poor Deirdre had to wait beyond Customs for over three hours!....walked through the automatic doors and hit the outside air, William and I both breathed it in and looked at each other and laughed - it smelled like America again. Okay, so it smelled like car fumes and for some inexplicable reason like a fish market, but there was also something more, some combination of scents, that was immediately familiar as American, even if we are still 3,000 miles away from home.

But actually being back in the "good ol' US of A"....uhm, not as exciting as I thought it would be. It's one thing to intellectually know that America is not the center of the universe, quite another to actually experience it. Now that I'm back, I assume I'll pick back up the little accessories and attitudes that marks me distinctively an American, and slide seamlessly back into my own culture. No. Wait. I guess I never was very seamlessly assimilated even before going overseas, was I? Whew. But you know what I mean. We'll just start doing things on automaton again because it's human nature to adapt, mold to one's surroundings. Hopefully though the memories of "different" will stick around and add wisdom and understanding to my actions, whether they be big ones, like politics, or little actions, something as simple as flushing a toilet or walking across the street.

We did miss a few things about America though. On the top of William's list: drink refills (which Deirdre finds highly amusing since they don't give automatic refills here on the East Coast either), unlimited supplies of catsup (what is Brown Sauce and what do you use it on? We never really figured that out), and Taco Bell.

For me...... hmmmm........ prices I guess. But it's all relative, isn't it. It's because I was exchanging dollars to pounds (or euros) that the cost was so high over there. Would it be as expensive if I was making a living in those currencies to begin with? I'm not really sure. So...... uhm..... Dang, there has to be other things I missed. Right? Only I can't think of anything at the moment. Maybe when I get back to my normal routines I'll think of more. Oh, I know, no damn commercials at the cinema... er, theater... I'm back in the US, gotta start speaking the language again, don't I. And no, it's not the same language. There's English English. And then there's American English.

Mainly the things I've missed this last month haven't been cultural, they've been personal things. My husband, my pets, my friends. Talking to my kids. My own bed, my own garden, my own internet settings, my own washing machine. But those things were all missing by circumstances, travel, not country location.

I can think of things I'll miss about the UK and/or Paris. Sidewalk cafes or the open doors of a pub on every corner. Being able to order tea and automatically getting the whole set up of tea pot, water, and milk. Hedgerows. Statues and history so thick you can't take ten steps without bumping into it. Multi-national populations. Mind the gap. Mass transportation that is actually usable. Theatre (live) in every city, town, or village. Cobblestones and bricks.

There are lots of little adjustments, neither good nor bad but simply different. At the airport we were trying to find a way out. We looked for a sign. We didn't see anything that said "Way Out" or even "Sortie". Finally I spied a small black and white sign. Four letters. E-X-I-T. It took a nano-second for my brain to translate it. I pointed at it and we moved towards the corrider underneath it. We hadn't seen an "Exit" sign in a month.

We went to bed last night, according to the beautiful big wall clock in Deirdre's livingroom, at 10:30 pm. Our bodies though, knew differently. It was actually 3:30 am, possibly even 4:30 am, as we'd just returned from Paris a few days before we flew back. I woke this morning to see the clock read 6:30 am. I stared at it and pondered sleepily if I had slept for eight hours, or only three? And we still have three more time zones to travel backwards through before we're back home.

Very confusing. I'll just sign off with a quote from The Truman Show that will cover all my bases - "Good morning! And in case I don't see you: good afternoon, good evening and good night!"


Anonymous LoveAnna said...

I'm so glad you loved your trip and sorrier than I can say that we didn't have an opportunity to meet. Hey ho, there's always next time :) I agree that when you get Home from Abroad your own counry does have it's own smell and however unassimilated (sounds very Dr. Who!) you are to the stereotypes of your culture you find yourself displaying some of them when you leave your own country - or picking them up again when you get home, if you dropped them when away. I hope that makes sense, I'm tired and the brain isn't quite working.

Brown sauce is a Very British Thing and it's commonly found smothering bacon sandwiches (aka bacon butties - no laughing please!), chips (aka fries), pork pies, English breakfasts and cheese on toast.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Kirsty said...

Welcome back to us! and USA! Waving while looking southward to Connecticut!

Kirsty/Moonsinger in MAss!

6:41 PM  

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