Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Silence will fall...

After having got so used to my life in Africa, I was expecting this transition back to American life to be a bit more challenging than previous changes.  They are SUCH different places I thought surely the reverse culture shock would hit me this time.  I was very very wrong.

In retrospect, this shouldn't have surprised me.  I have gotten myself rather used to switching between cultures.  It makes sense that it should get easier and less shocking each time.  I just thought that if any place was going to do it to me, it would be Africa. 

Instead, I feel like I've jumped right back in where I left off.  Mostly, I'm loving the 'normalcy' and comfort of living in a place I know well with customs I fully understand.  That said, there have been just a couple things that I've had to adjust to.

The cold has been the biggest, by far.  After my first day of subbing, my mom came home to find me huddled in bed, up to my chin in down comforters, attempting to convince myself to leave the warmth and run to the grocery store.  I didn't make it that day.  It probably didn't help that we didn't manage to find the space heaters until a couple weeks after I got home and my bedroom is in the basement.  Now that I've been home a few weeks, my body seems to have recovered some ability to regulate its own temperature, but the space heater is still my best friend. 

I'm also finally getting used to the fact that the tap water is potable.  Sometimes I even get crazy and drink a glass of it.  I'm not all the way there yet, though.  I still pause for a second before I remember that it's ok to put the spoon I just rinsed off directly in my mouth and occasionally find myself being careful not to open my mouth when I shower anywhere that isn't my house. Which, really, probably isn't an unwise precaution when I'm at the gym.

The last thing is the quiet.  I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but neighborhoods are so quiet here!  I noticed this right away but it's really been driving me crazy this past week, especially at night.  There are no dogs barking, or babies crying, or cats fighting, or music playing.  You can't hear anything!  I like to sleep with a fan on anyway, just for the white noise, but the other day I stayed with a friend and I actually had to put in earplugs because is was too quiet.  It's eerie.  While I don't miss hearing my neighbor's TV or questionable music choices, I do miss feeling connected to the community.  Everything and everyone is so isolated here. 

I think this is one of the things I really like about living places - seeing what kinds of things I take away, what things stick.  I can never predict what it will be.  When I got back from Shanghai I was in love with the sky for awhile, this time I'm blown away by the silence.  I'm curious to see what other things emerge the longer I'm home.