Jun 11, 2014

American Indulgences

So, if I haven't mentioned it yet, we're going back to the states for the summer to visit family, go to a wedding, and hit up an epic trip to D-land...because my little family doesn't travel enough.

I'm currently at the hesitantly excited phase.  Like staring at the sun, I can't let my mind focus for too long on the American'ness coming our way.  If you've lived abroad, possibly you are nodding your head right now thinking, yep.  I know exactly what she's talking about.

However, if you've never lived outside the red, white and blue, then you might not fully grasp what I'm implying.  The best metaphor I can pull together to describe my feeling is like this.  You know in books (or movies or real life) when people go a long time without eating, then when they see a bowl of chowder or a big pizza and they scarf it down only to heave it all up ten seconds later.

Well, not to compare America to barf, but that's basically what I'm afraid of.  It took me the better part of ten months to acclimate to this Target-less life, and I'm at that point where I'm cool with it.  In fact, I'd say I'm thriving.  The nearest Starbucks is 45 minutes away, which has made me appreciate and enjoy a good European cappuccino.  We don't do drive-thrus, we eat sandwiches at home.  We watch classic movies from the library because we don't have a Redbox or Netflix.

Struggles for sure, I know.

But the point I'm making is: luxuries are just that, luxuries.  They only fog the view.  Now, we sit in traditional German garb and drink local brews with our neighbors.  We spend more time together, just doing nothing but being together.  When we want to eat out, we find a local family-owned restaurant and pray their kitchen is open so we can eat.  We don't have a lot of choices in our lifestyle, so we make due with what we have and remember to be thankful for it.  Our one tiny gym, our little library, our one-screen movie theater, our beautiful little apartment.

We see our good fortune so much more clearly now.

For the record, wording this post without sounding like a spoiled American was really difficult and I hope I succeeded, at least partially.

And now...I can't close this out without pointing out a few things that I am crazy excited about.
- Going to Barnes and Noble and staying there until 11pm at night.
- The ambient sound of conversation in English
- Taking a yoga class not taught by myself
- Having more than one tiny shelf in the bookstore (again, I'm still thankful for that one tiny shelf in the German bookstore)
- Grandparent/Grandchild bonding time (read: Mommy free time)
- High-speed internet (I just drooled)
- Seeing any movie, whenever I want (basically)
- A/C (drooled again)

To be honest, I could live without  Target and Starbucks and 24 hour gas stations and things open on Sunday...because I have.  And my biggest hesitation is that I'm going to indulge like crazy on this trip and only shoot myself in the foot when it's time to return home.  I don't want to feel European resentment again.  I didn't enjoy that transition; it was painful.  An American detox...not fun.

So, I'm only taking little nibbles.  At first.

6 comments:

Amanda said...

I loved this post. Reverse culture shock is a very real thing! When I studied abroad, knowing I would get homesick very quickly, I kept a notebook of all the pros and cons of each place. I guess similar to what you wrote above. And it helped so much! I would jot down a memory I had from home in the U.S., or what crazy, fun experience I'd just had that night in England (to remember when I would inevitably get homesick in two weeks). Might be helpful! :)

ohseems said...

I get it! The funny thing is I feel the SAME way living on the East Coast and when I travel back to the West Coast. There are just some things we crave and just want and can't have where we live but you make the most of it anyways. Are you afraid that the excitement is going to fade once you get here - that you may not get the feeling you anticipated?

Raised Southern said...

Great Post! Safe Travels!

sarah e said...

I really appreciate your honesty -- the cultural shift, however brief, can be jarring. I hope there are a lots of things that make the trip special and fun without ending in semi-tragedy. :)

melissa said...

It's so strange that you live in a place where these things don't exist! It's so great that you got used to it though and manage to live so well without all of it. Nonetheless, totally saw you soaking in some B&N time... Enjoy!!

Fran said...

All I'm saying' if/when you're in El Paso, you better make some Franny time!

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