Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why Hello Culture Shock! or Why this place is NOT my home

I've had an enjoyable time visiting the US this summer. If anything my visit has reinforced my personal belief the US is a perfectly wonderful country to visit, I fail to understand why they would choose to live here...or call it home...but that may be just me. :P But a couple things have caught me off guard that I knew in the back of my mind to expect but wasn't really expecting it to catch me off guard as much as it did.
For instance, my parents live in a small town in the South, so people are friendly. I mean, REALLY friendly--like strangers smiling at me, saying hello, and then sitting down to start a conversation with me friendly. The first couple times that random people said hello and asked how I was, I thought I knew them and forgot who they were. Then I realized that no I didn't know them and they were just being friendly (or overfriendly depending on what you're used too). Then, yesterday, while my mom and I were at the bank waiting for my grandfather (he recently moved to VA from WA, so he's moving all his accounts) this guy sits down and starts up a conversation with us covering everything from Obama to Romney to the heat to ABC stores to pretty wine bottles to West Virginia to real estate to the price of soft drinks to Christian being filled with the Spirit (that's the other thing--almost everyone here claims that their Christians). It was weird....then I was buying construction paper and sharpies (AND TWISTABLES FOR MY KIDDOS!!!!) and this other guy started up a conversation with me. Weird! I mean, little old Czech ladies talk to me all the time, but most of the time they're just talking to talk and don't expect me to say anything (not that I could, since I have no clue what they're telling me!) I've probably come across as a snob to half the town because I keep forgetting that people here are friendly like that!
Another thing--everyone is LOUD! I mean, REALLY LOUD! I don't know how anyone can think around here, they're all so loud! And everyone speaks English, so I want to listen to all their conversations, so it's almost like language overload.
Also, the amount of choice is overwhelming. I ran into this after my first year in Guatemala when my mother told to get ice cream while I was at the store. I had to call her back to ask her to be more specific. They had an entire aisle! so, yesterday my mom asked me to get the ranch salad dressing while we were grocery shopping. You would think that would be simple...or not. Did you know that there is lite ranch, fat free ranch, bacon ranch, buttermilk ranch, cucumber ranch, peppercorn ranch, and original ranch (I apologize to any varieties of ranch I have left out. It was not intentional!). Who knew there were so many types of ranch! :S
The final shock to me was one that has been building slowly over the past decade. I'm different. I've lived in five different countries since I was eighteen. I love Canada--watching "Anne of Green Gables" or "Flashpoint" make me homesick! I miss the Atlantic Coast and visits to Halifax and PEI! I watched the "From Sussex and I Know It" YouTube video multiple times, because, hey, I lived in Sussex! For four years! I love Canada! And just as much or even more, depending on the day, I love Guatemala. I am a chapina en mi corazon! I miss active volcanoes and black sand beaches. I miss strolling the streets of Antigua, CAG, and the people I called family. I miss worshiping in Spanish as church! I miss Guatemala. Even more, my entire family misses Guatemala. At one point or another, all of us have called it home. It's a place that will forever be home to me. I also occasionally miss good Korean food. I only lived in Korea for a semester while in university, but I loved it while I was there.
Don't be alarmed. There is a part of me that will always love the US--especially Virginia, the place my family has lived since the 1600s. I am a Virginia's just that Virginia isn't home anymore. It's the place of my past, not my future. Up until now, Virginia has always still been a little home. This summer I have realized, I don't live here anymore. I'm a visitor here. I don't belong here, and I probably will not live in this country long term ever again. It's not where I belong. Not that I belong in the Czech Republic or Guatemala or Canada or Korea or anywhere on earth for that matter. Thankfully, God has a place for me where I do belong--and someday I'll be in my real home. Until that day, I'll claim the definition of home an a picture my mom gave me for my birthday yesterday. It has all these shoes on it and reads, "Home is where you hang your heels." After all, every woman needs a good pair of heels and a place to hang them! :)

By the way--my mother jokingly suggested a picture that read, "Home is where my mom is." I vetoed it and she understood...I think...
Actually, my parents are very good and have made a point of telling everyone, "Rebecca is VISITING us for the summer." :)