Friday, December 12, 2014

What It's Like to be Back

I haven't posted in a while, both because I'm back home and because it's been so incredibly busy.

But I wanted to gather a few thoughts about what it's been like to be home again. The intensity is diminishing over time, and I feel I'm in danger of feeling like three years in China was just an unreal dream, so maybe this will help.

When I first arrived, I kept looking at the sky, every chance I could get. I could even do that when I was crossing the street because cars yield. (Someday I'll write that without italics.)

I cannot shake the sticker shock. I go into a CVS to pick up a cheap notebook. $10? For a kids' school notebook?

I try to buy theater tickets. The price is $90 for good seats.

I have not seen one person spitting.

I go into Whole Foods. There are brochures telling customers how the animals lived. Back at Sanyuanli in Beijing, you could pretty much tell how the animals lived by the expression on their faces as they hung in the meat section.

I keep finding items for sale that I never knew anyone ever needed or wanted. Inside TJ Maxx, for instance, I see a container for traveling with deviled eggs. A colander strictly for washing berries.

And yet, I'm having so much fun buying food for and preparing meals every night. Yes, I'm slightly hindered by the missing food processor, beater, coffee machine, and slow cooker, all sitting quietly in a container ship on the ocean. I don't even know which ocean. But my grandmothers didn't have these things and they were pretty good cooks, so I manage quite well.

I'm enjoying seeing friends and family, driving in my new car, getting on the internet with no problem, jogging on streets that are devoid of people. I'm enjoying a conversation with a very polite plumber who came today, did his work efficiently and well, and then told me to have a "blessed day" when he left. I don't think the plumbers in China did that, but then again they may have said that and I didn't understand them.

I'm enjoying giving away, throwing out, and recycling the piles of junk that sat for three years in storage, stuff we should have disencumbered ourselves us much earlier. Why do we have a tin of Cuban cigars? How many scented candles does any human need? Why did I save every single book I ever reviewed? How many journals did Joanna keep over the years?

It's all subject to purging. And if we can't decide whether to toss something, we box it and put it in the attic, which may come crashing down on our heads someday. But not today.


  1. Well? It's January now. How are things going today, stranger in a strange land?

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