I have recently become terribly irresponsible about my blog. I don’t know if the French have influenced me with their laissez-faire ways, if I’ve become too busy in the past month absorbing the culture shock from my home country, or if I forgot that I had a blog in the first place. In any case, it needs to change because way too many awesome things have happened in the past few months that I haven’t told anyone about – like my trip to England with 50 French high school students or my 2 week adventure exploring New York and California with 3 Frenchies (because we all know if it’s not on the internet, it didn’t happen).
Let’s start with my retour to the United States. After arriving in France on September 23rd, the only other land I stepped foot on was Belgian, English, Dutch, German, or Polish. American was a long way from any of that, so you can only imagine how I felt flying into Washington D.C. on May 12th, nearly 8 months later. I was in for a whirlwind 2 weeks with mon amour and two friends of ours as we set off to visit two of the biggest names in the states: New York and California. I’ll tell you all of the fun stories in a later post, but for now, I’ll tell you about how this trip was basically a 2-week long intensive course on my own country and all of the things I had almost forgotten about during my stay in France.
I was quickly reminded of a certain custom the first time we all went out to a real restaurant (certainly in search of the perfect American hamburger – we ate so many hamburgers in those 2 weeks I don’t know how we didn’t turn into one!). TIPS. How could I have forgotten, even after working as a waitress for a year in high school, about tipping? Don’t worry, I tipped, but a part of me longed for the restaurants in France where the servers are paid more than less than minimum wage (does that make sense?) and the price you see in the menu is what you pay.
Speaking of money, I also remembered how little our change is worth. I thought back to those glorious Friday nights where my roommates wanted to go out for a drink. I would open my wallet and there would be no bills to be found, but alas: my coin pocket was full, and I had 18 euros. The day where I find 18 dollars in coins in my purse back home… well, that won’t ever happen.
Especially when we were in New York, I was amazed by the lack of smiles. (Of course, I do not speak for everyone. There were friendly people, but they were sunshine on a cloudy day.) After living in one of the rainiest regions in France where peoples’ smiles are almost the only form of sunshine, I missed shop owners asking me about my “petit accent” and competing with the number of nice things we could say to each other when I was on my way out: “Au revoir, madame!” “Au revoir, monsieur!” “Bonne journée!” “Merci, vous aussi!” “A bientôt!” “Oui, à bientôt!” Oh la la. It was tiring in the very best way.
Now now, don’t get the idea that I’m not happy to be back home sweet home, because I am. Having dinner with my family out on our new screen porch, babysitting two of my favorite kiddos in the world for the third summer in a row, reuniting with friends that have forgiven me for my unacceptable lack of emails and Skype calls while I was away, listening to real storms with rain and thunder and lightning, taking weekend trips to the country in Central Texas to shoot guns and build fires, and rediscovering all of my summer clothes certainly can’t be experienced in France. There is nothing like a Texas summer — nothing like Texas.
Bref: I’m back home. There are some things I don’t like, and lots of things I do love. What will come next? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know…