A couple of days ago we hit our one-week mark of being back in the US. We had friends staying with us and were busy with them so that helped the initial adjustment. We’ve done some “normal” things, too, like eating at Taco Bell, seeing a movie at the theater (crazy prices!), and shopping at Costco.
We also met up with another travel blogger and her family in a town that seems too perfect to be comfortable—Celebration. She referred to it as a “Stepford Wives town,” and in doing some research I’ve discovered she isn’t the only one to have made that comment.
The town was originally built by the Disney company, and you definitely feel like you’re in an extension of the world-famous park. It’s so clean and orderly that you almost fear doing something that might be potentially out of line.
I continue to enjoy some of the conveniences of life in America, but I’ve found that the orderliness and facade of perfection really makes me feel uneasy.
One of the perfection things I have enjoyed, however, is the sidewalks. In Mexico, I often walked in the street because the curbs are so high and the walkways so uneven that it bothers my knees. Plus you have to pay too much attention to the sidewalks when you walk. It’s just easier to walk in the street.
But not here! When I went for a run the other day it was so nice to not have to concentrate so much on the path. I could enjoy the visions of the ponds with their egrets and herons. Today, I was able to spot a very young alligator in a pond because I didn’t have to focus so much attention on the sidewalk.
I’m still very thrown off by the lack of children, though. There are a few schools nearby, so I know kids must live in the area. There were very minimal children in Celebration as well. It’s just so weird!
We haven’t shaken that feeling of sterility either. The buildings are too clean and in too good of condition. Even the cars are all nice. We’ve driven around several different areas, and I really haven’t seen many “clunkers.” Costco is in a more diverse neighborhood, but still things felt, well, lifeless.
Perhaps it’s just this section of Orlando. Maybe our proximity to Disney has influenced daily life too heavily. Our friends at Over Yonderlust will be hosting us for a few days when we arrive in Austin, and she assures me that we’ll have a very different experience there. I’m looking forward to it.
Interestingly, one of Tigger’s observations was that “Here you have to read the labels so much more to make sure they haven’t stuck a bunch of crap in there.” In Europe and Mexico, he felt like he could just pretty much toss stuff into the cart without having to worry about it. He also doesn’t appreciate all the rules.
My friend and I were discussing this very thing yesterday. Her family spends a few months in Italy every year, and the kids have so much more freedom there. This has been the case for us in most of the places we’ve traveled as well.
Right now I miss the European vibe. I miss walking among buildings that are hundreds of years old, or ones that are crumbling and in disrepair. Walking the narrow aisles of the grocery store near our home on Cozumel felt much more relaxed than the wider, spotless aisles here.
I think being around so much order and “perfection” makes me feel like I have to comply, like there are unspoken expectations. I feel greatly out of place. I find myself longing for the color and. . . well, the life and energy that were so common elsewhere.
I know the first week is the hardest for reentry. It’s a lot to take in during a short time. It will be interesting to see what things are like and how we feel when we get to Texas next week.