This evening we sit out on the small back porch that was a mistake so many years ago. The air hangs warm and soft, even late into this early May evening. There are lentils grown on the Horn family farm, yellow zucchini pickle relish and Apricot beer.
This is it. This is home. This is the west coast of Canada. It is both wonderful and strange to find myself back in this place. Everything is both familiar and foreign, comforting and disturbingly strange.
My heart aches for the crowded and dirty streets of Paris, for the sound of french being spoken and european sirens blaring, and yet, at the same moment I sit on the most beautiful patio out at Nourish and simply absorb the feeling of familiarity. It’s hard to know how it feels beyond overwhelming. Coming home has happened so fast.
People ask what’s the hardest, weirdest, most different? There are things of course, but I’m finding that it’s the little things I am noticing the most.
Walking past water fountains (WATER FOUNTAINS!) in the Seattle airport made me grin from ear to ear – oh it’s good to be back! Imagine a place where you can fill up your own water bottle almost anywhere that you go.
I love this continent.
Listening to other people speak English everywhere I turn: my filter for background conversation is completely gone: I don’t want to know about your expensive vacation to the Napa Valley. I’m not sure I’ve heard another language being spoken even once since arriving.
I miss speaking french.
Grocery shopping: Butter costs HOW MUCH? Where the heck do I find the cheese? Is this the right brand? No of course not … what am I even supposed to be buying? I never thought culture shock would include something as routine as shopping for groceries at the same Thrifty Foods I’ve been shopping at since I was thirteen.
Most stressful half hour I have spent since getting home.
The showers have overwhelmingly high water pressure, the streets are massive, there is so much grass, people where whatever the heck they want as long as it’s comfortable, I can get a real and delicious coffee, I cannot get a real or delicious croissant, cyclists sport helmets, cars use turn signals, the pacific ocean looks the same, the cherry blossoms are in full swing, Victoria smells like springtime, and everywhere I go I feel vaguely like I am walking through a movie set. Did my life here really happen? Did my life in Europe really happen? What does reality even consist of?
In this moment I hang above the reality of the world just waiting to take the plunge into whatever it is that the next chapter of my life is bringing me. It has started, but not really, not fully yet, we’re still reading the forward to this chapter – we don’t even know what the plot is going to be yet.