Observations of a recent expat trying to repatriate in Washington DC:

*Cicadas are loud. And when they are dead, I’m totally fascinated by their shiny fat heads.

*Clouds form on the horizon when it is super hot, not because it is necessarily going to rain but b/c of the heat. Could someone explain that to me?

*I love the architecture of the 1890s town houses in Capitol Hill—the colorful bricks, the turrets, the rod iron gates. I’m mesmerized by the enormity of the trees in this city especially the gigantic one in our front lawn. I’m smitten with the long, large front porches in Northwest DC.

*Mosquitos are fierce and can do serious damage to a young girls’ legs. Especially if said young girl can’t stop scratching, picking, touching them all the time.

*Nannies are everywhere. I remember when I got to Iceland asking about a nanny and getting all kinds of blank stares. Nannies were everywhere in Russia too, but after Iceland it is sorta shocking to see so many kids being raised by nannies. No judgment, just an observation. But it does bring me to my next item.

*Why on earth is the school day not linked to the work day? Why is that so hard to figure out? In Iceland, the school provided some sort of childcare until the work day ended. I guess schools have some sort of service like that here too-but at our kids’ school, aftercare has been fully booked since last March. No chance of us getting in it. Which means, of course, we’ll have to find a nanny.

*Some houses are really, really big.

*Grocery stores are overwhelming. You can get everything and anything in one spot.

*Entering a grocery store is still a total shock to my senses. I can’t believe that in one place, under one massive roof, I can buy fresh kale, filo dough, kiwis, snap peas, arugula, soy burgers, Zaa’taa, star fruit, ready-made pie crust, dried cherries, really good ready-made hummus, you name it! But if you want to buy Museli, you better go to one of those stores with bins, otherwise it’s a fortune. In Europe, you could get loads of Museli for cheap just about anywhere.

–when the recipe calls for sliced almonds and you don’t have to first blanch, peel and slice them, it saves almost 30 minutes. Same is true for pistachios (you can buy them already shelled!)

–there are so many choices of microbeers, wines, and alcohols and it doesn’t break the bank to buy them

*Other odd food things: For the first time in 7 years, when I want to buy baking chocolate, I’m not totally stumped. The box is labeled with exactly what the recipe asks for. And why doesn’t Safeway or Giant carry Finn Crisp crackers? Guess I have to make a special trip to some special store to get my fav. crackers.

*I had actually forgotten what it feels like to be super hot. Where the heat presses down and sits on every pour, even in the middle of the night.

*The fact that I can understand what everyone is saying around me all of the time, warms my soul. Though I do, from time to time, stop and turn around to see if I recognize the English speaker behind me.

*And just like that, I’m a crazy American doing too many things at once. 3 big freelance jobs, a major house renovation project, full–time mama cooking 3 meals a day, a writer trying to work on her stories on spec. What happened to the slow, manageable lifestyle? Maybe I’m just suited to be ultra busy. Maybe it’s living in a big city in America.

*Now that we live in a house we actually own, all I can daydream about is how I want to fix it up, customize it, make it look like it is ours. Someday. . .

*Halloween in America is more over-the-top amazing outrageous than I even fantasized about

*I don’t think I’m going to get the 6-month slump here. I’m talking to you, Foreign Service folks, you know, the one that comes after 6 months-ish of living somewhere where you stop unpacking and realize now you live here and what-the-hell do you actually do and how. I think this is familiar and home enough, that I’ll just slip into my life. . . (check back with me in a few months, when we hit 6 months)

*It’s started to rain leaves out front, brilliant red, yellow, and orange leaves trickle down from our massive tree and blow from the ones on the block. It’s gorgeous.



About ericajgreen

Writer/Editor living in Reykjavik, Iceland
This entry was posted in expat, Foreign Service and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to REPATRIATE

  1. You perfectly captured how returning to the U.S. feels! After living overseas a couple times, I’d say especially the experience of grocery shopping in America is the closest thing to feeling culture shock, in your own culture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s