Even the simplest things, like candy bar brands, have evolved. There are all these new flavors and weird combinations of things that I’ve never seen or tried, though they are still so oddly familiar.
I feel like I’m Alice from Alice in Wonderland after she bites the mushroom or drinks the potion or whatever it was that made her shrink. In American Wonderland, portions are unnecessarily massive. Grocery stores are labyrinths (Costco, you are equally amazing as you are superfluous. Same with your husband, Walmart). Variety and options are never-ending. What type of hummus should I buy today? Roasted red pepper, garlic parmesan, pine nut, marinated olive, zesty lemon, basil pesto. Or maybe I should choose a different brand? Should I get family size? Will someone else in my household eat it? This one’s on sale, but I don’t like that flavor…I thought I was already indecisive enough when there were two options in front of me.
The first few weeks, I woke up thinking I was still away. I half expected to open my eyes and see the claustrophobic white walls of my apartment, a sneaky patch of sunlight defying the thinness of my cheap curtains, my messy IKEA dresser with cords oozing down the sides and onto the cool floor. Where was that exhausted buzz of my air conditioner, or the sound of beeping taxis below, or my window that faced the abandoned office building with the fluorescent lights that never turned off? They were halfway across the world, replaced instead by the silence of suburbia.
I wake up now to a window out of which I can see my wintry backyard, Evergreen trees and clear blue skies. I hear the sound of my Mom’s voice talking to so-and-so, the agitated howling of the tea kettle, the click of my dog’s toenails across hardwood. I get up and stretch and I’m never close to knocking anything over when I reach my arms up, over my head, and side-to-side.
What is this space? What did I do to deserve this?
I am privileged to have experienced many opportunities, to have lived abroad for three years and to have lived a life nothing like the one I’m living now. I am lucky to have parents who work hard to sustain themselves and their children, who want the best for them and their futures. Knowing this, I am grateful. Knowing this, I am sad.
I’ve spent so much time away from home, from them. Life has moved on without me. It’s gaps in time that hurt the most: the death of my sweet grandmother and aunt, my little cousin’s birthday parties, my friends who have fallen out of and into love, my dog’s ailments, my mother’s grieving, my brother’s frustrations of living at home, my father’s double life here and in Toronto.
For the longest time, I feared returning. I was afraid of feeling the shock in reverse. I was afraid of resettling into my American life. I was afraid of feeling disconnected to friends who once knew a different me.
I’m still afraid, I’m still afraid…