As promised there hasn't been much excitement around here lately. I've been studying Spanish, I've been cooking, I've been spending lots of time with the grandmas. The most exciting thing I can think of is when I passed out yesterday after having my blood drawn.* Ironically, this is the only item I've been able to cross off my life list so far this summer. (#8 Faint) However, I'm thinking of adding 'get a master's degree' so that I can cross that off too.
Every time I come back to my childhood home I notice something new. The first trip home I noticed that the toilet was pink.** I had lived in our house for 14 years without noticing that. I also noticed all the sounds and smells of home like I never had before; the smell of the docks and the way the wind howls through the trees in a storm. It's amazing how we ignore the things we are familiar with. A semester away at school was enough distance for me to start seeing my home like an outsider.
The second time I came home I was amused at all the things we do that other people don't. Once I moved away I noticed how the midwest is a very trusting place. We still have the ability to pump a tank full of gas before paying for it, which I think isn't an option in many places. (I could be wrong, but at least in some places you have to pay first.) We don't lock our doors - in fact several of our doors can't be locked. We can leave our keys in the car when we go to school or shopping and it will be right there when we come back. In the summer we even leave the doors wide open when we're out for the dog to come and go. It took a long time in college to get used to the idea of carrying keys with me everywhere. I felt like the jailer carefully locking up my apartment each day.
And then of course there are the little variations of speech that tell me I'm home. We say pop not soda. We call freeways interstates. I distinctly remember that growing up we weren't allowed to use the words ticked off or pissed off and had to say teed off instead. ...Oh my goodness was I sheltered! I still remember my brother using phrases like Jiminy! and Criminetly! (Bet you've never heard those.)
This time I've been impressed with the difference in our pace of life here. In DC everyone is constantly moving and striving and competing. Here I wear the same pair of jeans every day. Sometimes we drop by people's houses just to talk to them. We don't even go out for coffee as an excuse! I find my to-do list shrinks in importance and my to-visit list takes over. We spend hours walking through my grandma's garden, carefully looking at each flower, a task that would drive me bananas in DC.
That's one of the secretly nice things about going overseas, one of the things I hope is still true even when I have a fancy embassy job. Away from the fast pace of the US I find I have a lot more time to savor the parts of life that are most important to me. I hope this summer in Bolivia is full of learning and that I can really accomplish some great things for the embassy, but I am also hoping it will be another chance to slow down and experience things a bit more carefully. I guess we'll see though. Only 3 days til I fly to La Paz!
*Just for the sake of protecting my street cred, let me say that I am not afraid of needles. Apparently, a half a bowl of Lucky Charms isn't enough to keep your blood sugar up until 2:30. So there it is kids, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
** It is no longer pink. Just fyi.