Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hello, Estados Unidos

Leaving Buenos Aires was made as easy as possible by a shockingly cooperative real estate agent who didn't even check the apartment and gave me a full refund on my deposit (and also didn't ask for the last two months of internet I technically owed that the landlady cancelled out from under me a half dozen times) as well as by Sol, who graciously drove me to the airport and waited as I checked in and requested my tax-free refund (which randomly was put straight onto my credit card). We both put on good faces but I suspect she cried in the car, as I did in the terminal.

My flight to Santiago was totally uneventful, while my three hours in the Santiago airport was just enough to remind me why I left Chile in the first place (suffice to say I had a less than savory dining experience). The overnight to LA was less pleasant as a very selfish mother had wedged her baby's carrier in the seat behind me in such a way that I could not recline (despite my and the flight attendants' requests that she adjust it), and then did not put the baby in the carrier once during the entire 11 hours. I was very happy to arrive in LA. Customs was a breeze other than the physical force I had to exert to heft my giant suitcases onto the x-ray machines (though by the grace of God I was not charged for an extra bag OR extra weight!) and they even took my bags right back from me so I didn't have to check them in with Alaska.

I was fortunate to arrive in Seattle on Saturday at noon - as did my bags, proving LA customs really did have their sh** together - since several hours later the snow started again and airlines started cancelling flights left and right. Several of my friends were stranded in other parts of the country, and the news showed horror stories at the airport every day and night. I was grateful to walk into the very familiar setting of my parents' house, and then I didn't leave it... for four days straight. It's amazing how snow can shut a city down! Here's my home:
In a way it was a very comfortable way to ease back into American life. I only saw my family; I haven't driven a car yet; I only just left the house yesterday to go to the bank, the grocery store, and to dinner with a few friends; in short, my real life has not yet started up again here. I mentioned to my family that my time back has been like the movie Groundhog Day: every day I wake up and it's the exact same day. I go to bed early since it gets dark at 4 pm instead of 9 like I was used to, and wake up reasonably early. I check my e-mail, eat breakfast (how much delicious food I've rediscovered for breakfast! Waffles and peanutbutter! English muffins and smoked salmon! Hot chocolate with coffee! Homemade sugary breads!) and then spend the rest of the day watching TV and playing Scrabble with my mom and sister (eating all the while, of course). I sometimes break it up by letting the dogs out to frolick in the snow, and very occasionally frolicking with them. I even made a snowman:
Doesn't he look straight out of a Tim Burton movie? His face is rotten apples and his boutonniere is a dead hydrangea. He's also sort of a raindeer hybrid, complete with tail:
My favorite image from the snowscape is by far the little snow-capped apples which you can see in the picture above. You'd think they would have fallen off by now!

A few observations on coming back / differences from what I had gotten used to:
1) I now put all toilet paper directly into the toilet, which still feels a bit strange.
2) Any stranger will talk to you for any reason, as I rediscovered in the grocery store yesterday when no fewer than 3 strangers talked to me in a span of 30 minutes.
3) I can talk freely on my cell phone without getting charged a dollar a minute (well, a peso).
4) Hot water comes out of the tap in public places.
5) It is SILENT at night when I go to sleep.

All in all it feels very normal to be back. I know you'll all have the urge to ask if I was sad to leave and happy to come home, and the answer to both is yes, so now we've gotten that out of the way! I start my real life again on January 5 - my birthday - and I think I'll be ready once I can get a good shopping trip to H&M in (glorious H&M is now in my city!) and if all the snow is gone by then. Otherwise I may be working from home...

On a side note, I would like to give mad props to my mom. Although she claims to kill indoor plants, she not only kept the four plants I left behind alive, but also helped them thrive. It was such a welcome sight to see a very few of my originally giant collection of plants alive and well! I can't wait to visit the jade and the lipstick plant at Adam and Jeremy's, though of course I'm more anxious to see THEM, and all my other friends as well. Extra mad props to Brandi, David, and Evan for coming to dinner last night! Mexican has never tasted so good.

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and all that jazz. 2009, here we come!


Sunshine said...

I most certainly cried :-(
That being said, I'm glad you're home and I wish I could have one of those breakfast!!! Oh MY GOD!!! I'm feeling hungry just reading about it!

I'd like also a Scrabble match but I would probably loose -I'm good at English but not that great :-P

Have I told you that I met the snow just last September?! It took me 28 years to touch the snow!!! Wowww & you can only see snow now!

Love u girl & missing u a lot!

Merry Christmas for you & your family! And a huge clap for you mom's hand at gardening!

Tessa said...

Our house looks strangely provincial. But I love your snow man! Wish I were there...

Sara said...

Wow. Happy Birthday, although it's almost over now... and Happy New Year!

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