We’ve been back in the US for five days now. I’ve heard from other people who have dealt with re-entry, and the minimum time it seems to take before you start feeling more comfortable is about 2-1/2 weeks. I can believe it.
It has probably helped that we live in a planned community currently. Although, that has been a culture shock of its own.
I’ve felt a bit stunned at just how quiet it is here. You rarely see anyone outside their house. And I have not heard one child outside our home. Even in the grocery store, there are no kids. In Mexico, I’m used to neighbors being outside their home and children being in the street. The grocery stores always have kids laughing and playing.
While the silence is nice in some ways, in other ways it feels isolating.
This community is absolutely manicured and spotless as is the grocery store we frequent. Most of the places we’ve driven by or visited have been similar. It feels, well, sterile.
The other day I went grocery shopping. There was a line of people at the deli. I needed to squeeze between two people, so naturally I said “excuse me.” However, we’ve been living in Mexico for 4 months, so I habitually said it in Spanish. The woman’s eyes grew wide and she stepped back with a horrified expression on her face.
I don’t think I’ve walked away from an area so quickly before. I half expected her to scream.
I guess people in Yuppyville aren’t used to people speaking Spanish to them. Or maybe the fact that I look like a white person added an extra dose of fear factor? It was just bizarre.
It’s also been weird to see people throwing money around like it’s nothing.
Yesterday, we went with our friends to Legoland Florida. It was fun but didn’t help my feeling of culture shock at all. Although, it was definitely enjoyable to hear the occasional Mandarin, Portuguese, or Spanish being spoken around me.
I had to laugh, though, when we paid for our parking and were given a rather long piece of paper that basically was an acknowledgment of a release of liability for a wide range of issues that could occur in the parking lot. We’ve been in some amusement parks outside the US, and the lack of concern about having a long list of rules was rather enjoyable.
The pricing of the admission was a eyebrow raiser for me, too. In other countries these things felt priced in such a way that most families could avail themselves of the opportunity. I don’t know how most people afford a $136 per person price tag for a place like Universal Orlando.
I bit my tongue a LOT yesterday when I kept finding myself ready to say “In other countries. . . “ No one wants to hear it. So I kept my musings silent. At least until our friend handed me a Pepsi. That was one of the foulest things I’ve put in my mouth. In other countries. . . well, it’s the first time I almost spit Pepsi out of my mouth.
While I’m enjoying some of the conveniences (I got an Amazon delivery on a Sunday!) and things like Red Vines, I’m now getting that typical reentry feeling of “I just don’t feel like I belong here.” We had a great time yesterday, but I find myself in a bit of a funk. And we’ve barely interfaced with many people.
I can’t even imagine what it will be like once we’re out in public more often.
Tigger is enjoying being back in the US where they have his favorite foods, fast and reliable Internet, and where he can be around kids that speak English. As usual, he doesn’t see the stares from people as he goes skipping by. There are times I’m grateful that he can so easily retreat into his own world.
It isn’t that I’m not enjoying being back in the States. It’s just such a big difference it requires time to adjust. It feels weird and alien, and it’s odd feeling like you’re a foreigner in your own land.
I look forward to when things don’t feel and seem so odd.
October 26, 2014
That’s how I felt when I got back to NZ after nearly 3 years away, I felt like a foreigner in my own country and I hated feeling like that. Thankfully it passed but it took me a couple of months
October 26, 2014
It is such a weird feeling!
October 25, 2014
The quiet is noticeable the second you step into the airport … pindrop quiet almost. Also, the space … oh my God, the space! In Asia, you get used to people invading your personal space that you really notice it when you get back to the developed world!
October 26, 2014
So true! Especially the personal space. It’s funny to see people in the grocery stores putting so much effort into not touching others when they pass. It’s actually almost comical.
October 20, 2014
I’ve been following you guys for a bit now and I always find your posts amusing – very candid. I appreciate that tremendously.
While you are reintegrating back into the States, my husband and I are reintegrating into London life after 26 months on the road. London is the epicenter of travel, the hub of the wheel, if you will (in my opinion anyway) with lots of cultures happily living side by side (and lots of opportunities to cheaply jet off somewhere new) – and still I am struggling after almost a month.
It is the absence of movement, the absence of always seeing something new, the absence of feeling alive and spirited that I think is the hardest for me.
I have to keep reminding myself of everything that being in one place offers: great wifi, the same bed, a good shower, the ability to cook what you want when you want, community, and what I’m now finally enjoying (after all the unpacking and cleaning and sorting): productivity and the ability to work toward the next chapter. I’ll enjoy following your transition to see what finally does it for you.
This too shall pass,
October 21, 2014
It will be interesting to see how being settled feels for me as well. We were in one spot for a few months in Mexico, but being in a foreign country always offers something new even if you’ve already seen the sights. I think I will feel similarly to you, esp if we stay in the States.
October 20, 2014
Hi, I’ve have been following you and your sons adventures a lot. It has been wonderful, thank you so much for all you have done in opening the eyes of a lot of people who have may never left our country. I am fortunate to have had grandparents from Europe (Italy) and although they are long gone I have always been able to easily feel apart of the whole world as they gave me a global view of my experience. I have been to Europe many times and have dreams and plans to live there at least some of the time. This is where my thought comes in for you. I have heard of the re-entry period, however have you considered you may have grown mentally and spiritually so much more and will just realize you must live globally because this is just NOT what makes you happy. It is still hard to find globally minded people in the U.S. on a daily basis. How will you adjust when you just may have out grown Planned communities, planned grocery stores where every item is tracked to know the possibility you will buy, buy buy. What if you want to have stimulating conversations about world politics and the need water among the third world countries and more. Why is it all the really cool movies stars have left Hollywood and now live and Europe. Not that they are a gage on how I live my life , but just wondering? In closing, if that nagging longing feeling doesn’t go away after a while, let me tell you its not because of re-entry its because you long for the deeper and more meaningful life you created outside of these walls. I am still in shock of the low percentage of Americans that still do not own a passport and have never been on the other side of the pond to see things from a different perspective. I was born in America, there are some wonderful people in my life, but that nagging longing never seems to leave me. Best of everything to you and your son.
October 21, 2014
We definitely are not cut out for planned communities and carefully manicured lifestyles. That’s for darn sure. Before we left the States, I didn’t really feel all that connected to US culture as it was, now much less so. We shall see. Right now we’re ready to go back to Europe where we felt at home, but we’ll wait until we’re back in Washington state before we make any big decisions.