First and foremost, I LIIIIIIVE!!
I know there’s been radio silence since I got back to the States, but it’s been a bit insane. I swear, it feels like I have somewhere or something I’m always supposed to be doing! Apparently, local folks missed me, so a good deal of that was visiting people again. But settling back in at home is having a few unexpected results.
Jetlag kicked my tuckus for a good week or so, but this was expected. Why I thought it would be a good idea to schedule a convention for the weekend after my return is beyond me. Somewhere in the back of my head, I was positive it would be fine. And I DID survive the con, even made a few decent connections in the process, but I was definitely a zombie through a good portion of it. From some of my friends, I knew it would take a couple of weeks to get my sleeping back in order (not that my sleep patterns before were anything close to ‘normal’).
My sleep schedule is finally back on track, but I still feel like I’m forgetting stuffs. It’s nothing specific – just this sense that I should be doing something (even when I’m not) or that I misplaced something. Everything just feels a shade off now that I’m back. I’m sure that’s all part of the adjustment period (or maybe I really did forget something!!)
The remaining problems are best described as ‘reverse culture shock.’ Ish.
The SMELL is different here. Or should I say it’s different in China? I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but there you have it. I’m sure it’s something I noticed when I first got to China, but I got used to it. Now that it’s missing here, my conscious mind has been making note of it.
Going into stores again here make me feel distinctly uncomfortable. The malls are too big, too wide open compared to China, and even Wal-Mart makes me cringe (wait… that was before, too…). Too much space, not enough people. I never thought I’d be COMFORTABLE with this insane crush of people all around me all the time. I’d say ‘maybe I should go during rush hour,’ but I’m not THAT far gone nor am I that patient!! It’s just another thing I’ve noticed.
Before I went to China, I was the only one who drove whenever my friends and I went out, and when others did, I was always pumping those imaginary breaks on the passenger side. I admit it – I’m a lousy passenger. Now? Meh… Nothing anyone could do would be worse than what happened in China, and I got used to that. Traffic seems like a dream, even at the worst of times, and even when I’m driving, I just go with the flow rather than growling and snarling. Even my road-rage is less! Before, I would normally be grr-growling and swearing at the people all around me, especially those who cut me off or do something Stupid ™. I’m sure I’ll return to my norm as far as that’s concerned soon enough…. 😉
I’ve been eating out quite a bit since I got back (see above where I mentioned folks missed me?). First, in China (or Asia as a whole), the servers only approach the table when you call them. They otherwise leave you alone. So if you need ANYTHING, you gotta call them over to you with a hearty “fuya!” I KNOW you don’t do that here… really. But if a friend at my table says they want more water or get something new or… anything, I find that hand coming up and my mouth opening. I’m working on it.
The food, too…. wow. I never thought I’d be That Person ™, but lo! It seems I am! They don’t use as many preservatives there, and most of the food is freshly made not to mention less grease (more oils, less grease). Re-adjusting to the food itself has been fascinating… And sometimes painful when mixed with my missing gallbladder. Ow.
I’ve always been a huggy person, but for the past five months, none of that. Or rather, very, very little. So little, in fact, I was surprised with everyone giving me hugs when I returned. The casual contact surprises me, and I didn’t miss how much I miss it. I find it’s not something I’m really initiating any more which before, it always was.
All of the little interactions between people. It’s hard to quanitfy this one… Just the minor nuances of human interaction over there is a shade off from here.
The biggest thing has been people by and large understanding what I’m saying while in public.
First and foremost, I should point out that I really don’t care if people understand what I say. I generally say what I want to say, and people can take it or leave it. I try not to be overtly rude or offensive, but if some stranger takes offense at a random thing that comes tumbling out of my mouth, I couldn’t care less. It’s not THAT.
But, for example, when I went with a friend to get drinks, and the person behind the counter supplied additional information to whatever we were talking about – that made me jump. When I realized that the table behind me filled with little old ladies could understand every word I was saying over lunch to a group of friends, it made me uncomfortable. When a random passerby laughs at a random joke I make, it startles me. I’ve been used to living in this content little bubble for the past five months where only the person I was speaking to (likely) understood what I was saying. I don’t know why it’s taking so long to adjust, but it really is.
I’m sure there are dozens of other little things that have been throwing me off, but I’m slowly settling back into where I once was. I miss being abroad, miss traveling. Miss the food and the people and the cities.
But I am happy to be back home to see all those I know and love once more.
At least I’m not trying to play frogger here…
I’ll be doing plenty more blogs of my time in China and Korea – I have lots more adventures and pictures to share! And more adventures planned now that I’m home, but I wanted to talk about this while it was still fresh in my mind!