A few days ago I climbed into my minivan (automatic sliding doors!) and pulled out onto highway 60 in southern Missouri. I drove for a few minutes before passing a sign that stated the speed limit. I looked down and realized that I had been driving ten miles an hour under the limit and not one car had come up behind me and flashed their lights, honked their horn, or passed me on the shoulder or the double yellow lines. In fact, not a single car had even come up behind me the whole time I was driving too slow. That didn't stop me, however, from checking my mirrors every five seconds.
Twelve miles and ten minutes later I pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot. I cruised past at least fifty open spots before choosing one a reasonable distance from the entrance. After putting the car in park, I got out and opened my door all of the way and eased my pregnant self out of the car. The door didn't even come close to the car parked in the next space.
I sauntered through the parking lot, keeping a sharp eye out for the no cars that crowded the lanes, not trying to run me over. I fetched my cart from the corral holding at least fifty and cruised up and down the aisles, picking up various toiletries, looking at cell phones, and picking up some milk and cheese before beeping my purchases through self check-out line. I think I saw maybe fifteen people the entire time I was there.
It is so good to be back in the US.
I used to be somewhat unnerved by not feeling some sense of global disconnect whenever I flew halfway across the world. It was like being in two different worlds and I just changed in a twenty-four hour period - shouldn't I feel strange? But I've gotten used to simply switching from non-American brain to American brain without much thinking about it. When we were in the Chicago airport I pointed out to Sophia that it was so amazing to have everyone around us speaking English. She turned to me, confused, "Why are they speaking English? Aren't we in Germany?" When I told her that Chicago is in America and Frankfurt in Germany, she laughed, "I just get them confused sometimes."
There are things I really enjoy about living overseas and I'm certainly committed to living this lifestyle long-term, but I am happy to be back in the bosom of America, if only for the next nine months. I have already started a to-do list for when we pull into Falls Church and on the top three items are Target, Costco, and the local library. I'm looking forward to spending time with family and going to parks and historical monuments and swimming at the pool and chatting with check-out clerks and standing in lines and did I mention Target?
I know that by the time November rolls around I'll be ready to move out of three bedrooms and onto our next overseas adventure. The parks and pools and library and maybe even Target (maybe not) will have lost their charm and I'll be happy to get on another plane. But for now, I'm happy to be back.