Home one year – still adjusting, embarrassing myself

What the… I’ve been back in the US for one year already? Holy crap! What happened to all that time? All I did was leave town seven times (four internationally), write four guidebook chapters for two countries, write nine travel magazine articles, write 55 buyer’s guides for MSN, write countless blog posts for my own blogs and others, buy a condo, furnish it and fail to land three more travel TV show auditions.

The funny-if-you’re-not-me thing is I often still feel like I’m re-adjusting to living in the US. There was a small incident just last week when I was charged with obtaining items for a dinner recipe and ended up frozen with confusion and despair when faced with over 33 different varies of bacon. You know how many kinds of bacon they have in Romania? One. It’s called ‘bacon’.

I’m struggling with a few other ongoing reverse culture shock issues, like continually saying ‘toilet’ instead of ‘bathroom’, not being able to intelligently discuss “The Hills” or “Gossip Girl”, and, despite being a lean, mean 5′-9″ and 145 lbs, failing to find clothes that fit me. All pants and shorts with a 30-inch waist seem to have been exported to Eastern Europe. Even if I could find clothes my size, I still have to learn the new sizing scheme that debuted while I was abroad, like t-shirts now labeled as ‘small’ are in fact mediums, ‘mediums’ are larges, etc all the way up the line, meaning I’m probably going to have to go to Baby Gap to get shirts that aren’t billowing off me.

Do I miss being a homeless vagabond? Yes, sometimes very much. There’s few greater joys in life than sitting back, tenting your fingers and thinking “Now what warm, cheap place that will make all my friends wretchedly jealous shall I live in this winter?” I miss the giddying daily discovery of new cultural tidbits. Also, there’s the food. Just last week a friend of mine and I drove each other to drooling, craving madness while discussing the food we missed in Italy.

But there’s no denying I love having my own place here in Minneapolis, with my own things and the ability to own more than three books or one pair of shoes at the same time. While living in eccentric and exotic destinations was undeniably great, those temporary apartments were almost unanimously horrible. The thin walls, the sketchy utilities, the broken stuff and the kitchens that had one pot, one pan, four plates and two forks often tested the upper limits of my ability to be productive or simply make pasta.

So, while my life is far less interesting and there’s no avoiding the Minnesota winter that’s about to descend around me, I’m still quite happy with the decision to return home and try my best to resume a life that more closely approximates normalcy. Except I still get to travel frequently and otherwise sit at home all day in my underwear and publicly muse about the downsides of freelancing and the character flaws of the people that don’t hire me.

In closing, still loving Minneapolis, hire me if you’ve got the guts and toilet, toilet, toilet.

Agonizing over travel insurance? Maybe I can help…