Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

Despite missing Engrish and onigiri, I'm enjoying being back in the United States. It has taken me some time to write about reentry into the American atmosphere, but not because it has been overly fiery or bumpy. There is simply no rushing recovery from the disorienting effects of watching solid ground rapidly greet a craft, that just a few hours ago, was languidly floating in space.

I think I've been in quarantine long enough and life is almost up to normal speed. I know this to be literally true because American drivers have stopped flipping me off for going under 60mph...and figuratively so because I can go into Costco and Target without suffering sensory overload in under 10 minutes. Sadly, I still have not mastered The Mall.

My perspective has also started to center. For example, when we first got back, Tim was walking with the girls to the grocery store when they spied an old dude with a beer and burrito belly driving his riding lawnmower down a major Denver artery. He finally reached his destination--a 7-Eleven parking lot, where he puttered into a handicapped space, got a Big Gulp and headed back home. You don't need to ask, he was indeed wearing tidewater overalls.

Perhaps a few years ago, I would have been indignant about the nerve, the cheek...the utter laziness of it all. But now, I revel in its unadulterated "joie d'Americaness." People may arrogantly complain to the salesclerk that the local American Girl shop is not as big as the one in New York, and therefore, "disappointing". They might even loudly ask their preschooler in TJMaxx, for people to hear aisles over, "Will you stop whining if I buy you something!?" God bless them all, for they know not what they do.

All of this really bugs me for a second or two. Then, I remember where I am. And why people do what they do. I'm in the promised land...a place whose population has not directly suffered the physical effects of war in over 150 years. I live in a country where people can afford to bribe their kids but don't have to bribe their politicians to get basic civic improvements. I belong to a people who can freely let their freak flag fly and enjoy some amazing freedoms without too much static from their fellow countrymen. Incomprehensibly, mysteriously, bizarrely, it works for us.

In the end, even if someone has hung an ugly picture or moved a favorite chair to an inconvenient spot, I am pleased to report that you can go home again.

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