We’ve been in the US for three months now, and still occasionally feel the jolts of reverse culture shock. I’m finally slowing down enough to put my thoughts to paper.
A few weeks ago our sweet friends threw a “welcome home” picnic for us. It was fun eating meatball sandwiches, sausage soup, salads, and cake with our close group of special people.
Several times different ones came over and said something to the effect of: “I know this isn’t really home for you…but…we didn’t know what else to call this party.”
To which I said, “You know, we call everywhere that we are at ‘home.’ We call hotels ‘home’, we call friends’ houses ‘home’…it’s the best way for us to appreciate wherever we’re at. And it’s easier just to call everywhere home without having to be specific. ”
This is true..mostly. We do really enjoy this new home. But, we still feel the jolts of realization that we aren’t really AT home here (or maybe, anywhere).
I feel like I need to tell everyone where I am going, and what I am doing. Sitting at a ladies event, I got up to go to the bathroom, and felt that I should announce to the table that I was going to go to the bathroom (I stifled the urge). When going to the store I almost head over to my neighbors’ house to tell her that I’m headed out (she’s my sister-in-law so it’s not TOO weird).
I feel weird in situations where I would be expected to use my left hand. I still juggle my purchases to my left hand so I can pay with my right hand, or accept whatever someone is giving me with my right. Try paying a toll with your right hand!
I find it strange that Americans have such nice cars, but they let them get pretty dirty. Asians will wash their cars EVERY DAY.
I go to Wal-Mart, and find it incredibly weird to see people in their bathing suits (whaa?) or sweatpants and t-shirts. I know, I know it’s not weird, it’s Wal-Mart. But in Asia you dress up to go out, anywhere. I still ask Michael before going out “are you sure if it’s okay if I wear my jeans and a t-shirt?”
I’m relieved when I can enter a room, and not have to work it. In other words, in Asia I would walk into a room full of people, and have to shake hands and greet everyone. It was good and connected me with everyone, but I would also get tired of it. Here, I like the anonymity of walking into a church service, sitting down, and doing MY thing.
It’s tempting to get comfortable here, to adapt and adjust, and to live it up here in this US home. But, my otherness reminds me to live in such a way that says “this world is not my home.” Even if we call everywhere home, it really isn’t.
A blog I love to read, written by my long ago friend Jen, says it best.