Making the Change

We’ve been back in the northern part of North America for just over a week now. The difference between this time and our last visit is quite significant. The experience so far has really highlighted how much attitude can affect things.

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The last time we were in the US, it took over a month before we stopped really feeling like aliens. I definitely do feel a little out of place, but instead of feeling like I don’t belong it’s more of a humorous adventure. Unlike last time I haven’t scared anyone by accidentally speaking Spanish, but I have gotten a couple of weird looks when asking things like the location of the rubbish bin and where the toilet is (instead of the bathroom/restroom).

When buying produce at the supermarket, I laughed at my confusion when I couldn’t spot the scale for weighing my selection and printing out the appropriate label for the cashier.

At checkout, Tigger was eagerly grabbing the scanned items and placing them in the cart. The cashier kindly asked “Is there a different way you’d like me to do this?” I reminded Tigger they bag the groceries here (in most cases) and explained to the cashier we had been living in Europe where you bag your own stuff and often get dirty looks if there is a pileup.

“Well, that’s just rude.” Oh how nice it is to have a friendly cashier again (although, they were kind in the UK, too).

As expected, we have thoroughly enjoyed being overwhelmed by the amount of choice in a US supermarket. It is so wonderful having so many options for groceries again. I also like that even in a store that is new to me I can pretty much guess which aisle an item will be found.

Not to mention how glorious it is to have a whole section devoted to bacon. And did you know there are more than 3 flavors of Ben & Jerry’s?

We aren’t fully settling in yet as we have house sits until the end of December. Thankfully, though, most of that time is being spent in one beautiful location. The bags are mostly unpacked again, which is always a nice feeling. We still have some uncertainty as to where exactly we’ll be basing ourselves after the sits, but for now we’re just enjoying being able to stay put.

Having the mindset that this place (Washington state) is probably going to be home has really helped change my approach to things and feel more settled even though we don’t have a “home” yet.

The surroundings haven’t hurt either. The house is by a lagoon. When the tide is out, I can enjoy watching all the birds on the mud flats. We have a bald eagle who nests nearby. Sometimes it’s in one of our trees, and at other times you can hear its distinctive chirps as it flies overhead. Tigger has joined the dog for a dip when the tide is in and has also played in the mud.

In addition to a greenhouse full of cacti (over 200), there is a vegetable garden from which I’ve enjoyed many tomatoes, apple and pear trees (I’m making an apple pie this afternoon), and a carnivorous plant garden.

As the nighttime autumn temperatures drop, I’m enjoying the luxury of central heat.

A friend met us at the airport and surprised us with a basket of goodies of some of my favorite things. She drove us to our sit, so we had some time to catch up which was lovely. Hopefully, we’ll have some other friends visit soon. It’s so nice having friends relatively close again.

It’s also fun being able to be online when most of my friends are, too.

To help, I’ve stopped looking at housesitting ads or flight deals since our focus is on being here and setting up community. There will be time for that stuff later. For now, all my efforts need to be focused on being here and building the next phase of our life.

This experience of being back in the US is like night and day from our last time 2 years ago. I feel so much more hopeful, so much more relaxed, and so much more positive. The advice to “Embrace the strangeness” has been spot on. Focusing on all the things I enjoy has unsurprisingly been a lot more fruitful than “Can I really make this work?”

Attitude truly is everything.

And while it’s only been a week, I can honestly say something I wasn’t sure I would ever say: It’s good to be back.

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  1. I can so relate! Our first time back to the US was horrible. We were overwhelmed and irritated. After a second year abroad, our homecoming was a bit better. We enjoyed the comforts of ‘home’ (we don’t really have one) for a shorter time – less than a month – and were off again. Not sure when we’ll circle around again, but I think each time gets easier. Sounds like you’ll be settling for a bit – wishing you all the best!

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  2. Attitude really is everything! When you talked about reframing things in a previous post, that really hitthe nail on the head for me. Billy and I are reframing lots of things right now. My Mom just moved to Portland and our plan is to stay with her for a few months ( after she vacations here in Chiang Mai for two months) and then we’ll start house hunting in BC at some point. We’ve always wanted to explore the PNW so I’m really excited about it! I look forward to visiting Portland too. Where in Washington are you? Have you met any other unschoolers?

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    • Portland is a great city. Have considered it as well. Used to visit there quite a bit. Nice that you’ll have some time to check it out.

      The PNW is such a beautiful region. It’s really great being back. I’ve missed it a lot. We’re currently in Gig Harbor. This sit takes us into mid December, then we have a 10-day one on Whidbey Island which is a repeat from a couple of years ago. Trying to figure out where exactly in WA we’re going to settle, though.

      We haven’t met any other unschoolers, but I also haven’t been looking since we’re only in this town for 2-1/2 months.

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  3. Talon, it’s been fun to follow your adventures and interesting that your adventures have led you back to Washington. You have chosen a very pretty part of the state to settle into. Hope it all continues to go well.

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    • We aren’t settling in Gig Habor. At least not likely. This is just where our sit is. Would love to stay on Kitsap, but it’s fairly pricey and perhaps too isolated for what Tigger will need. We’ll see. Washington is so gorgeous, though. Have really missed it.

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  4. Reading about your transition back to the USA has been really interesting – I’m planning a longish-term move back as well and I recognized a lot of your anxious feelings from the earlier post in how I feel about being in the USA again. But this post has really gotten my excited. (Okay, I admit – I’m mostly excited about not having to bag my own groceries!)

    So glad to hear things are going well over there!

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    • Cool! When are you coming back? Do you know where you’ll be headed? And yeah, not having to bag your own groceries is a bit underrated. Mostly it’s just nice not having to deal with surly cashiers, and unlike Berlin you can pretty much bet that every place you go will accept a debit card. 😉

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  5. Welcome home.

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