Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reentering the Atmosphere


I felt sick as the plane was descending. My head was throbbing and my stomach ached. I thought maybe I’d picked up a European bug, but it seemed to just be exhaustion settling into all my cells.

The air was smudged with smog or maybe the creeping smoke from a summer forest fire. Not like the sky in Germany. Not polka dotted with cotton candy clouds like in Richmond.

When I came through the front door, I expected the felines to be waiting eagerly. Instead, I had to hunt them down in the bedroom. They seemed to have forgotten my scent and my purpose in their life.

It felt good to drive a car again, although the familiarity of the roads fogged the glass around the past 6 weeks. The drive to work was a Groundhog Day morning. Suddenly it was as if the last month and a half was a dream. Everything was back to normal. Everything was as it should be. Nothing had changed.

Cursed by expectations again. When I left, I expected some grand transformation of person, relationship, outlook on life. Instead, I simply discovered that I don’t like the rain or spiders or heavy luggage. I prefer the consistency of Southern California weather and I enjoy grocery stores that stay open 24 hours. No epiphanies. Just a new awareness of some things taken for granted.

The same proved true when I landed back home. Like how you think you’ll suddenly feel like a woman the first time you get your period. I just felt like me. Except crankier and a bit more tired.

Desperate to effect some sort of change in my life, I started rearranging things in my apartment. Purging vases, packing away picture frames, restacking books. Mr. Wonderful cleaned out his closet. We must have been sharing a similar feeling. But despite the new plant pots and reorganized kitchen countertop, it’s still my same old place.

I’m not sure what my next move should be. I wonder if this is how it feels when you get married or have a baby. All those months of planning, anticipating, expecting. And then it happens and you try to slow down each moment and burn it in your memory. But the next day, that’s all it is. A memory. And you’re still the same old you.

11 comments:

justrun said...

Though I've never done quite what you did, I feel like I know just what you mean. Those expectations of transformation hardly ever turn out. Rather, you're just the same you. But perhaps better, richer, more experienced, and more at home with yourself just as you are.
And then you're standing in line at the 24-hour grocery one day, minding your own business, expecting nothing and BAM, that's when the transformation comes.

Welcome back, I'm sure California missed you too!

SoMi's Nilsa said...

You had such a wonderful opportunity to go to Europe and spend time with a loved one. It should take you some time to decompress from that trip. You should still be you. Only better. And I think you are. Welcome home!

Jane Monepenny said...

Wow, I wonder if I'll feel the same way after Africa. It seems like I will b/c life outside doesn't change much. The real world is stiff chugging along. I have a feeling the transformation is one that's a long-term one, not one that hits you on the head like those signs and sunbursts we hope we notify us of CHANGE COMING YOUR WAY!

Dingo said...

Some people would have the experiences you did and would still be the same old them. Not you. Knowing you, I think you've probably grown in ways you haven't yet realized. This post shows growth. Dman, girl, just packing up and going took some introspection and leaving your comfort zone!

Growth doesn't always have to be sing from the mountain tops. Sometimes it can be humming in the shower.

brookem said...

im with nilsa. i think it's going to take some time to get back into the swing of things back home. this was such an amazing experience, and i have a feeling that coming back home, back to the routine you were always used to, probably pales in comparison to what you've experienced in the past 6 weeks. just take each day as it comes, reflect back on the wonderful time you had in europe, and i have a feeling things will start to feel more normal soon...

Anita said...

Dingo is right-on with the singing analogy...Love it! I think it will be the little things that you see in the upcoming months where you'll see the changes in yourself.

In the end, I think it's better for you to experience these unexpected moments of epiphanies/clarity vs. it just hitting you all at once.

Wow, that was awkward said...

The same old you is pretty damn good you know. But I suspect exhaustion is clouding your self assessment. I bet you will remember this trip for life and that little things about it will surprise you over time.

geekhiker said...

And yet you keep advising me to do the travel thing, hinting that I will find some epiphany out there. Interesting...

Well, if nothing else, you discovered the type of weather/environment you want to live in, so now you know you're limited to Mediterranean locations. Which is okay, because that's places like Italy, Greece and Australia. :)

But I also suggest you go back and re-read the posts that you wrote while you were away. The ones in which you talked about how you discovered you were comfortable with the domesticity of living with Mr. W. Sounds an awful lot like a bit of self-discovery to me.

And since all I did for the last month and a half was work, quit yer 'complainin. ;)

Sizzle said...

I think that something will shift once you've settled back into California life. You're too introspective to have had such an experience and not have it change something. Welcome home!

Hannah said...

It's just you getting settled back into your life here. No need to worry at all. You had a great time, you saw amazing things, went to fantastic places. It can be a bit of an adjustment but you are still awesome, if not more so cause you just got back from living in Freaking Europe!

Alysha said...

You're BACK!!! I just read this! Welcome home!!!