08 July 2008

Letters from Home

Nothing beats a beautiful Michigan summer day. Or a beautiful Michigan forest. Or my beautiful Michigan family. Can you tell I’m glad to be back in my beautiful Michigan home?
The readjustment has been anything but painful. I can’t say I’ve experienced any “reverse culture shock,” because how can I be shocked by everything which is so familiar? The places remain the same, the people the same, the habits and personalities the same. And right now, I like familiar. I like going to brunch again with my sisters; though now, we’ve deemed my niece old enough to join. I like sipping morning coffee with my mom; though now, the coffee pot has changed. I like goofing off with my dad; though now…no, still about the same level of goofiness. My dog and I take the same walks, I’ve reclaimed my room, and the “welcome back” party was just as good as any other. So what has changed?
I have changed.
I have changed. And it makes me notice strange things, like public drinking fountains, or the way the dishwasher here closes differently than the one at my Strasbourg home, or the different feel of the telephone here from the cell phone I used all year. I notice the differences in social interactions: at restaurants, leaving a store, or talking with customer services. I need a moment when someone asks “Can I help you?”…and when the server brings the food before I’ve forgotten what I’ve ordered. I need a moment when I get into a car…and when I fill it up with gas. I find myself wishing for the “bisous” cheek kiss instead of my awkward hugs. I do foolish things like greet everyone I interact with before beginning my request, and ignoring everyone else. Foolish things like checking train tickets for a big trip coming up (even at $4.20 a gallon, the ticket was 4 times as expensive as driving myself). Foolish things like buying a Meijer baguette, like tuning the radio to my usual French news station, like thinking I can ride a bike anywhere.
This world is not the same, I am not the same. But I am in this world and it is mine. I set about claiming it…now.