I’m leaving the US soon, and while I’m relieved to finally be heading home, I anticipate a huge, crushing culture crash coming on. Five months is no joke, and this trip’s been monumental for me. On some days, I don’t know where home is anymore, or who I am turning out to be – but I’ve realized that where I am is who I am, and I’ll adapt accordingly.
When I’m in the United States, I am / have become many things. Here is a not-very-inclusive list (most are trivial, and two are important):
- Here in the U.S., I like washing the dishes. I do it several times a day, almost like meditation.
- I like the cool breeze, the amount of greenery, and the dogs strutting their stuff on the street. I like parks. I wish we had better parks in Manila. (But we have better beaches.)
- I wear dresses here (gasp!), and heels (double gasp!). And makeup, geezus. I am girlier here than I have ever been.
- I never have enough cash, and always overuse my credit card. I also overuse my phone, for music. I can no longer walk outside without blocking out the noise.
- I go to yoga class, even if it is overpriced (the price of my previous yoga practice: free). But I like it a lot. When I get home, I will enroll in one.
- I walk several blocks a day, or take public transportation. In Manila, I am spoiled with a car. I am in better shape here than I have ever been.
- …Except I am eating American food, which has portions twice or thrice as big as I can finish.
- I have learned to obey my nephew or sister. Or dog. There is nothing like picking up wet dog poop to make you think about your life.
- I now like soft-serve frozen yogurt, and the ability to record shows on TiVo. I listen to the classical music radio station during the day.
- I play World of Warcraft, and Magic: The Gathering, and different board games. I like them very much. I’ll keep playing once I get home.
- I try to do small talk with strangers, because that is The Thing To Do here, unlike in Manila where everyone minds their own business. How are you today? Good, how are you? Good! Have a nice day! You too! Rinse and repeat.
- I am afraid of drinking in public places, because they card me, and “card” sometimes means “American IDs only”.
- I miss my friends and my parents – I have never been away from them this long, and will definitely spend more time with them once I get back. Being alone every day is overrated.
- I now really like tea. The good kind. No more of that Lipton brisk tea bullshit.
- The most important thing I have learned in the U.S., I think, is the value of a real relationship – one that is not based on the past, is enjoyed in the present, and is also built towards the future. I have learned to accept and be accepted, to apologize and forgive, and to trust and have faith instead of give in to fear. I knew this all before, but they were just Big Words, and now I actually do them, every day.
- The second most important thing I have learned is, if you have a broken zipper in your pants (where it loosens up without you even trying), take a keyring and loop it through the zipper puller. Then hook the keyring around the button before buttoning your pants. Your zipper will stay put. (I found this fix here, and have Old Navy to blame for the lemon.)
That’s not a bad list for five months 🙂 I am done with this chapter of my life. On with the next!