So here I am. In America. Eating American foods and donning my sports related sweatshirts outside of the house. I'm taking showers behind full screen doors and washing my hands under mixer taps. I'm driving on the right to Target to buy things that are reasonably priced. I'm here, in America, and it's...weird.
I fully understand that I wasn't in the UK for a long time. A year and a half, that's it. That's nothing really and because of that you would think that being back in the States wouldn't be...weird. But it is. It's this strange combination of trying to reprogram your brain to stop working so hard in some ways, and having to kick it back in motion in other ways.
It's been a week back in the States and I still find myself watching the weather report and having to tell my brain I don't need to convert the numbers on the screen into Fahrenheit. When I'm cooking, I don't need my laptop up to a page that does grams to cups conversions. When shopping, I don't have to wonder if the store I'm in will carry an item or if I'm going to have to go to that same store's bigger store downtown to get it. I mean, I know I don't have to think that way but my brain has been working so hard for the last year and half that it can't seem to stop.
There's also this constant realization that things are more convenient here. I spent the first three days I was back not leaving the house until 10 AM because my brain was programmed to think that no stores was open until then. I spent an hour planning which T-mobile store I was going to drive to that would be able to activate my jail broken iPhone only to realize that the Walmart up the street (open 24 hours) had everything I needed.
Being in America is kind of like dealing with your friend's cousin Vinnie, “Whadda want? Whadeva you want, we got it.”
But there are some things that I have to start thinking about again...like sandwich ordering. In the UK if I ordered a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, they may ask me what bread I wanted and blam, there was my bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. But at the sandwich shop here:
“I'll have the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich please.”
“What type of bread?”
“Um, wheat I guess.”
“White or yellow egg?”
“White or yellow egg?”
“What does that even mean? White or yell....um, uhhhhh, one with a yolk? Yellow maybe?”
“No, what KIND of cheese?”
“What? Uh, provolone?”
“Oh Christ. No, just how it is please.”
“What do you want on it?”
“Toppings, what toppings do you want on it?”
“Just bacon, egg and cheese....oh wait, yeah, add some tomato since you're there.”
I swear that the sandwich shop now has a large picture of my face with a “Do Not Serve” written under it now.
I'm also struggling a bit with the expat hoarder mentality. I was doing a grocery shop the other day and I had to stop myself not once, but THREE times not to “pick something up to take back to the UK with me”. I don't need 5 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese. I don't need the jumbo box of Q-tips. I don't need to overdose on kosher dill pickles. I live here now. All that is available pretty much any time I want it.
And just so you know, I'm doing pretty good with driving on the right – it's just parking lots where I sometimes find myself hugging the left hand side of the lane for no apparent reason.
Oh, and I can't stop myself from saying, “cheers” as a thank you, but I'm trying. It's now coming out as, “Cheers, er, thank you.” Thankfully I never picked up 'ta' though a 'mate' has slipped out once or twice.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some fresh (not instant) coffee with half and half to drink while I lazily watch 'Good Morning America'. Indeed.