Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coming Home

It took me two hours from the moment my plane landed at JFK to reach Mom and Hannah. First there was the gate problem, an injured plane being nursed to health where my feet were supposed to disembark. Then the lines for passport control. Then customs. Then the long wait, the wait for the bags, two of them, which came in the last round from the Warsaw plane.

Two hours. I was going nuts. I tried to deep breathe as I walked and waited and jumped around and thoroughly descended into misery. I will see my mom tonight. I will see my mom tonight. I repeated this. Without a cell phone, I couldn't tell them what was going on or what had delayed me.

But, as all these trials tend to do, time passed and I made it out the door and to my family.

Contrary to my most earnest predictions, I did not cry. I was too angry about waiting for the bags.

The humidity fell on my like a blanket. Oh hello, PA summers!

My first meal was ChikFilA. Delicious. I was startled at several points when strangers addressed me in a language I understood. All conversations, the small business exchanges, had felt so significant this year, wondrous if I understood them in Bulgarian and deeply personal and intimate if in English. Suddenly, the language downgraded. I'm still not used to the distance and casual exchanges that dominated my life this past year.

People told me about "reverse culture shock". It's the reentry, the landing roar and clattering of the plane touching down. Oh hello America. Hello Family. There are times when it feels like I never lived in Bulgaria, where nothing was real, just a long dream, the longest dream of my life. There are times when it feels like nothing changed here, but then small things startle me: my brother's height and dense muscles, the drive to my mom's new house, how people pray in church, using a credit card to pay for everything etc.

I'm still in the honeymoon stage, even with some moments of being overwhelmed.

Some of the honeymoon:
  • Every beer I have, especially locally brewed ones, taste like the best beer I have ever had.
  • A conversation with a friend makes me giddy with happiness. I float through the rest of the day.
  • Penn State is the MOST BEAUTIFUL place I have ever seen. Including the construction.
  • My bed. New mattress. Long sleep. Each night.
  • Being so happy/overwhelmed with old friends that it floods the emotional circuits and it kind of hurts.
  • Dancing, even just a little bit at this point.
  • Holding Maggie's baby girls!

Some of the Misery:
  • Attempts to speak in Bulgarian when pushing through crowds.
  • Why does Pennsylvania have a weird accent? Why do they like Duck Dynasty? Why are there so many shopping centers that are empty?
  • Family re-entry. People I know and don't know. Ways of doing things I forgot. Sorry Hannah, for the challenge of sharing a bathroom again.
  • Church. There is no rival to how weird and uncomfortable church has been. The majority of my "I'm weirded out right now" moments come from there. Working through faith things this year, now thrust back into an American, English speaking lens... it's alienating and uncomfortable. After talking with a PastorFriend, this now has a name: "Missionary Culture Shock". Who knew there was such a thing or that I could get it...
  • I hate driving my car. I knew I would.
Haven't done any writing. Every day is full to the brim of something. I went to Bucknell just yesterday and started to find my way around there. I start Graduate School. I'll have an office.

I'm young and ignorant and it's awfully soon to be working on classes when I just got home.

More to come on the Re-Entry saga.


Sarah Martin said...

I loved this Dana! I wish PA wasn't so far away.

SaraJoy said...

This is great, thanks for sharing. I'll have to bookmark this to read 2 years later. :) I can relate, except in the opposite direction. Hopeful your transition into home is joy-filled in the midst of new changes and perspectives.

Kaitlin Sickle said...

Are grocery stores weird? I feel as though they would be. And also that the downtown market would provide a great deal of comfort.