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.
Not all of those things are just because you used to live outside of the country. I never call the restroom the toilet. It must be just a northern thing. I always either use bathroom or restroom. And I’ve never watched The Hills or Gossip Girl. And the furthest from the US I’ve ever been was Mexico!
And awww dang, Minnesota in the winter must be freeezing! Snow, ice, and frozen toes aren’t fun. I’m too cold already and the lowest it’s been is 58. (If I freeze to death, I’m leaving you my stereo)
But seriously, is there tons of snow up there in the winter? It must be beautiful! We never get snow here :( Take pictures of the snow when it comes! I wanna see!
Even though I am “old”, I am prepubescent in my travel writing cred.
For the longest time, I could not figure out why I so enjoyed the experiences of traveling to foreign lands, often so-called “third world” countries with living conditions of lower expectations than the typical American.
I finally got it: it’s what is exotic to me that I find compelling.
But I somehow have it in my mind that I would be less of a “real” travel writer if I write about some place that is in my own state or country than if I write about life on the streets of North Sulawesi or deserted beaches deep in Baja.
Do legitimate travel writers like you ever get that kind of mindset that obliges you to living with “cat-scented” apartments and (gasp) only one kind of bacon?
Can you find happiness being a homeless vagabond in the same country you live in?
I’m still having a hard time finding “the one” bacon in Moldova. I’m sure it is being hidden somewhere to be accessible only to foreigners, but I haven’t found it. I actually had a friend bring us some from the USA!
I like how the banner ad over this post has an animation of Tyson chicken nuggets. Contextual advertising is truly a force to be reckoned with.
I can definately relate to the “bathroom”-“toilet”–dichotomy. On my first night in Japan, after being plied with beer for several hours I asked to use the bathroom. After waiting for 20 minutes I was ushered into a room with a tub filled with piping hot water. Was there a toilet to be found? No. Thank God for bladder control.
Normalcy…im still struggling with that and havent left the country for large periods of time. Congrats on buying a condo. How is that working out. I am in the market for one myself and am looking this evening.
I think you should keep saying toilet and record the various responses you get from people. I suspect most wont bat an eye, but you might get some surprises too.