Good morning! A short post to start the day, and then maybe like eight more posts because the internet has decided to upload pictures? We’ll see.
I thought I’d show you a few of the things that have inspired culture shock in the last two weeks since I’ve returned to America. There are always things…not the ones I expect…that throw me for a loop. Sister and I often discuss how we are back in our own country, but having spent so many years overseas, we don’t quite fit in. There are…apparently…many things that we should just know, but we don’t! Such is the life of a third-culture-kid.
America is BIG. The big-ness of it hits me in different ways. When it comes to driving somewhere, you have to drive FAR, and that doesn’t faze anyone. Any place within an hour’s drive in any direction is considered do-able and local. The hills and the meadows stretch on and on and on. This is the big-ness which I love. I like that it makes me feel like a small part of a huge thing, and I like that the roads are overgrown with wildflowers and more trees than I’ve ever seen anywhere else. I like that our history is so upfront and personal, that America is still fairly wild, that there are far, far more birds that fly past my window than cars.
And then there is the big-ness that I don’t like.
Our area has a population of 5,402 spread out over a lot of land. Two miles up the road from us is the grocery store, which used to be a small-ish, manageable, slightly run-down place. Then they replaced it. With a fortress. It is the size of a small airport. For all I know, it is ALSO a small airport. It is open 24/7. There is just no reason that anyone around here needs to run to the local store at 3 AM and I have personally only been able to bring myself to go inside it a couple of times because it is just SO OVERWHELMING.
There is a big-ness in the book stores, the grocery stores, the construction stores, the clothing stores, the stuff stores, the more stores, the even-more stores that I can’t tolerate. Things are cheap. If you want cheap, there is cheap. Walmart is KING of the cheap, but this is what happened to me when I made the mistake of venturing into Walmart.
There are so many options. The options sprawl out in front of me and I–who am not good at making decisions–find myself paralyzed.
Here is how you buy a loofah in Europe: You go to the store and if they have a loofah, you buy it. If they don’t have a loofah, that is to be expected, and you will be fine.
Here is how you buy a loofah here in a small town in the middle of nowhere:
Yes, the following options are available:
- scrubbie dubbie
- and men’s, which are not different from the other ones.
- on a stick
- on a different kind of stick
- on a stick that is ergonomic
- on a wooden stick with a sponge
- on a wooden stick with a different kind of sponge
And Target. Oh my goodness, let’s not go THERE ever again. Behold what Target hath wrought:
And then there is tipping. Let’s save that one for another day. But America, just pay people a living wage! It would make everything so much easier!
The other day we met Aunt K thirty minutes away for dinner and WONDER WOMAN. (I loved Wonder Woman!) We went to a place called the Recovery Room, which made the following bold assertion:
It says: EVERY GAME EVERY DAY.
While you’re eating.
Here is what that looks like, and pretend you’re not good with sensory overload:
SCREENS EVERYWHERE. This was just from my seat at the restaurant. Some of the TVs had four different screens within the screen. Every sport imaginable! Lots of people talking at me! SO MANY DIFFERENT SCORES.
The menu did not have any vegetable untouched by cheese or meat, haha, and because of the decision-paralysis discussed above, this is how my ordering went down:
Waitress (SUPER PEPPY): Have you decided what you’ll be getting tonight?
Me (paralyzed from the menu, points to childhood favorite): The chicken strips?
Waitress: GREAT CHOICE. Okay, will you be having that with a special shake spice blend?
Waitress: Will you be having that with a special shake spice blend? We could do ranch, or adobo, or habanero, or–
Waitress: And what dip will you be having?
Me: …I…thought it came with the honey mustard?
Waitress (positively chipper): IT SURE DOES, but you can get another dip, too! Ranch? BBQ? Sweet and sour? Or maybe–
Me: –HONEY MUSTARD IS FINE THANKS
Waitress: SURE THING. Okay, and would you like regular fries, onion rings, sweet potato fri–
Me: –JUST THE NORMAL THING. JUST THE THING THAT EVERYONE GETS. THE REGULAR ONE.
Waitress: SOUNDS GREAT. Okay, and to drink?
Me (going crazy): Iced tea.
Waitress: Regular, lemon, raspberry, sweetened or unsweetened?
Me (puts my head down and begins to sob uncontrollably).
In no particular order, a few other culture shock moments:
I can hear Brother T and Sister in the other room cackling over Parks and Rec, I am drinking coffee with half-and-half, and later I plan to go and buy the best burrito I’ve ever had in my life. There are beautiful things here. It’s just better for everyone if I don’t go into a box store ever again.