Monday, September 01, 2008

Observations on America: The Transition Continues

I don't know if any of you are still checking this life and my posts have lost a little of that edge since I am no longer overseas. Sorry for the lack of updates, but the creative juices have been drained by the emotional stress of trying to be an American again.

Just to catch you up before I get into the observations:
I start work this week at a PR firm in downtown Dallas. I am excited to start something new, although the lack of freedom in my schedule is not my favorite thing to think about. I am going to try to be patient as I figure out how this new schedule works...but I have heard that it can take some time. In the Vierling house, working 8-5 doesn't exist. I will be the first to launch into this new world of corporate America. Somedays, I really wish I could just fly around like my parents do!

Emily and I have found an apartment. We have been tirelessly searching for something safe and affordable (and cute!). I think we are both ready to settle somewhere as much as this season will allow us to. And I am so thankful to have her here during this awkward, stressful, rollercoaster journey of relocating. We have laughed and cried and researched--and I am so glad we are doing it together.

Okay, so moving onto...The Observations

First up: The Grocery Store

I cannot begin to explain the overwhelming sense of "out-of-placeness" that I felt upon entering Tom Thumb for the first time. My cart was bigger than most of the cars in Italy. I didn't even know how to maneuver it! I promptly returned it to the huge lobby area and picked up a smaller, more appropriate, basket. As I entered the produce section, I stood in front of the avocados looking for the plastic glove with which I could use to make my selection. (In Italy, you always use a glove to pick up fruit.) I literally made a few laps around the fruit stands trying to find the gloves. After a few minutes, it hit me. I was in America. I could use my bare hands without fear of some little old lady yelling at me about germs. I selected my avocados and moved on, slightly weirded out.

After I managed to walk a few miles in the massive store trying to find everything, I made my way to the check out line. Amazed that the woman in front of me fit her ginormous cart through the check out line, I was a little flustered when it came time to pay. I couldn't remember how to use the credit card machine!! The cashier boy had no idea what to do with me. He showed me how to swipe my card and use that little pen like I was from outerspace. The look of shock never left his face.

Slighly humiliated and very much in awe of my own "Italian-ness," I walked about 20 feet out to my car, lifted the back hatch, placed my bags inside, and drove home. It was then that I remembered how much I love NOT hauling my groceries through crowded mobs. I would return to the grocery store confident and better prepared the next time.

Second: Air Conditioning

I refuse to believe the Italian proverb that air conditioning will make you sick. I think death by melting in your own bed beats out a slight cold any day. But, I will say that the air conditioning here in Texas has been taken a bit too far. Emily and I were at an apartment agency the other day and my hair was blowing in my face, papers were flying off the woman's desk, my teeth were chattering---and we were INSIDE. The line must be drawn somewhere, people. Snow flurries inside are just not right.

Not since this picture can I remember being so unprepared for such cold weather!!

Lastly: The Meg Ryan Syndrome
Remember her in When Harry Met Sally? (And I am not talking about that scene, c'mon!) She is an insane orderer in the movie. Everything off the menu must be slightly changed or altered.

Well, as I have slid back into my comfy American booth in the generic American eatery, I have become a Sally. I admit it. The freedom to say, "I would like the BLT, no B" is very liberating after two years of getting no say whatsoever. And then, to add to my already increasing Sally-like tendencies, I saw this last night at McAlisters:

Our freedom of options astounds me. This one will definitely take some getting used to, but I fully intend to keep ordering things exactly like they are but totally different.

It has continued to amaze me how this process brings to light just about every area of my heart--not just what I think about jobs, apartments, and cars. It has gone and is going so much deeper than that. Even the things that I knew to prepare myself for have been hard to handle. Friends living far away, community feeling distant, the pressure to be "successful," the realization that life is expensive (even without the euro).

My faith in the Lord's goodness is being tested. Like I knew it would. It is one of the very reasons I decided that moving back was the right put myself in the place where I would be most needy of the Lord. But I am still struggling with the day to day reality of resting in Him, putting holiness as my highest aim, and being content with the fact that He has the plan and I don't. I am a such a work in progress. Even trying to figure out how I am truly feeling in the midst of this whirlwind is a work in progress. I feel like a big, huge, grocery store-size mess most of the time these days. But it comes as no surprise to Him. And in that--His grace--I find hope.

Messy or not, He is one who is capable.
And I am thankful that He has given me sweet moments of laughing at myself.
They almost make me excited to see how I will embarrass myself next.

The world inside my head is a strange, strange place.