When I first returned to the United States last September, I noticed three things.
I turned into an animal, stepping on people and slobbering my way through customs and baggage checks in order to get home faster. I may have used the excuse, “I haven’t seen my family in years” a lot, but it paid off in at least one instance. You know the moment in way too many movies when the character is staring at an airline employee as she clicks and clacks the keyboard looking for a flight with an open seat? And unless it’s the end of the movie and the character needs to profess his love to someone before we punch the screen, the airline employee fails to find an open seat. Well, if those characters would just say that they haven’t seen their family in years, I bet there is some kind of priority waiting list spot that could have their name on it. For the record, I was one of at least 100 people who missed my connecting flight from San Francisco to another U.S. city because …. well, the pilot said there was wind. That’s all we know for sure. Imagine that, wind between San Francisco and Tokyo!
In America I also noticed three screaming, pissed-off kids right there in the San Francisco airport, all belonging to different families. Of course traveling is difficult on children and me too apparently, but I realized right away that I hadn’t seen a public temper-tantrum in over a year. Honestly. I’d seen Taiwanese kids cry at the school where I worked, and I even heard a few kids having a tantrum, but in this 7 million person city, the closest I’d come to seeing a public tantrum was one day on my way home from the bus stop. I don’t think I would have noticed if I were in a busy airport, but the streets near my house are fairly empty, and I could see a mother and father walking with their three-year-old daughter. The girl was whining and walking slowly. She was trying to say, “Buy me the doll with the purple hair!” but she was doing a really bad job getting her point across. If that family would move to America, she could learn a few lessons in voice level, materialism, and losing face. But as it was, she just kept whimpering and straggling behind her dad who was ignoring her other than glances back to make sure she followed.
The third thing is something I noticed in a gas station once I arrived in Texas. I got out of the car, looked to the left and saw a big pickup truck. To my right, a pickup truck. Behind me, a pickup truck. I peered around these trucks and saw at least two more trucks. I saw a few pickup trucks in Taipei, exactly two, but in that city I was usually surrounded by people, scooters, exhaust, bakeries, tiny parks, not trucks. So this was new.
None of it is new anymore. It only felt novel for about a week, maybe two. People ask me what I miss most about Taiwan. The answer is the people. I knew so many friendly, generous people. And here in Texas I only know screaming children and people with trucks. That’s not true at all. I have incredible friends, and none of them have trucks which is unlucky when I need to move. No job yet, though, so no moving in my future. I’m quickly sinking into the retired lifestyle we’ve got going on here. If only I had dividends and TRS checks being deposited into my bank account too. Then life would be just swell.
I have been telling my Taiwan friends about my parents’ house in the Texas hill country and the American food I’ve been eating. I said I’d post photos, so here they are.
I resisted posting a photo of my parent’s cat snuggling on my bed. So if you’re really bored right now, rest assured that it could have been worse.