Feeling “at home,” well, sort of

Reentry culture shock is a mad beast.

Mad, because you don’t really expect it (even if you know you should).

A beast because it can show its ugly head at the most unpredictable times.

It’s been 49 days since I moved back to the U.S. I’m still adjusting.

But instead of focusing on the trials and tribulations, here are three fun stories that help capture the irony of coming back “home.”

I’m a fish

I went on a walk with my kids to the grocery store.

Yes, I must have been homesick (or just desperate, since my husband had the car). This is something that people don’t do in McDonough, Ga.

In fact, when our whole family walked to the park the other day, we found out that even if it’s only a mile away doesn’t guarantee there are sidewalks the entire route!

“You walked?” the parks and rec lady asked incredulously. “What were you thinking?”

Sometimes I wonder the same thing.

Anyway, I walked to the grocery store with my kids.

All of the sudden I realized the buildings were more dilapidated. Then I noticed I was one of the only white faces around. I hadn’t crossed the railroad tracks, but the train was pretty close by!

I started to realize my entourage looked pretty out of place.

There was the whole walking thing.

Compounded by the very blond kiddo front and center on the stroller.

Also obvious that didn’t know exactly where we were going, since we would walk until a sidewalk ended and then have to cut through parking lots, etc.

I noticed the stares.

You know what? I cannot begin to tell you how comforting it all was.

That whole “fish out of water” experience is something I’ve grown so used to while living overseas that it made me feel like I was right at home.

I waved. People waved back.

Sure maybe they were thinking, “psycho mom on Aisle 11!”

I didn’t care. I couldn’t have been happier.

The problem with documents is that…

You always have problems with documents. Yes, friends, even in America.

Our address has changed three times since returning and you have no idea how much this messes everything up.

Unless you are American.

Which I guess means many of you do understand.

Anyway, we bought a car and it’s been a problem trying to get the license plates to our current address.

I called the car dealer with our address, but it didn’t get updated in their system and so…

They were sent to the wrong address.

A guy at that address overnighted them back to the car dealer, and that is where the trail ends..

And our temporary tags expired yesterday.

But hey, I’m taking it all in stride.

Didn’t get mad at the guy on the phone today.

Fact is, things like this were pretty much my life for seven years, and you know what? If I get pulled over for expired tags, at least I won’t be asked for a bribe…

Thank God for Aldi

I think I’ve already blogged about the emotional overload that accompanies a simple trip to Target.

Or Walmart.

Or Kroger.

Even though I’d visited the States and shopped at these places before, it was always for things I could fit in our luggage. Or a party. For a specific item. Never for something as open-ended as groceries.

So a couple weeks ago I finally made it to Aldi (thanks, Sarah, for the suggestion).

I didn’t want to go at first because my last memory of it was a place that was sort of ugly, carried generic brands and didn’t have a lot of what I was looking for.

Well, that memory was from before I lived overseas.

Now the effect is totally different.

Just like home! About the size of my local grocery store but full of American food! Like a whole store full of affordable ShopRite products (my friends in Kazakhstan will understand).

And instead of overwhelmed by the dizzying options of things I could make (if I even knew how), it’s a challenge I’m intimately familiar with: how do I make what’s in here work for the next two weeks?”

That and the prices are closer to Kazakhstan.

It’s truly beautiful.

So, to sum it all up, I want to thank God for his mercies. Sometimes they come in small packages, but I don’t want to overlook them.

Yes, it can be a rollercoaster.

But His mercies really are new every morning.

Here is a Scripture the Lord gave me yesterday,

“And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to Him.”

Amen.

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