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Archive for May, 2009

 

Three weeks in Greece, Madrid and NY.  Now I return home - to Columbia, South Carolina.

Three weeks in Greece, Madrid and NY. Now I return home - to Columbia, South Carolina.

I’ve just gotten home from vacation.  We were in Greece, Madrid (for a day – a stopover that was the result of our cheap but insane flight schedule) and New York.  You can expect posts about the trip in the near future, but today I’m trying to focus on the joys of coming home.  Even to a home that you don’t particularly like.

This is part of a renewed attempt to be positive and not spiral into negativity just because it usually leads to better jokes than wide-eyed optimism.  But coming home to Columbia, SC can make it difficult to stay positive about homecoming.  Take for instance my first jaunt out into the world to get groceries post-vacation.  With my groceries in the trunk (read: pounds of quick-melting Edy’s Light Slow Churned Moose Tracks ice cream) I turn the corner to see a train crossing my path.  I try to duck down a side street to miss it and instead find that the railway crosses that street as well and that the train is at a dead stop.  After sitting there for a good five minutes it starts moving – backwards.  Did I mention it’s going to be 93 degrees today?

But where was I…yes, I was trying to stay positive. 

There are some great things about coming home after a trip.  For one, our subletters cleaned this house like Miss Hannigan from Annie was here to hand them the Bon Ami.   It was a little shameful to come home to a house that was so much cleaner than we had left it.  Shameful, but awesome.  And then there was the mail.  I love getting the mail after a trip and having a giant stack of it to sort through.   Sure, a lot of it was circulars for the Bi-Lo and mail from psychics to my husband’s grandmother (She passed away eight years ago, so you would think a psychic would know to take her off their mailing list.)   But there were also magazines.  Sweet, shiny, delicious, disposal magazines.

Magazines a foot high awaiting my return.

Magazines a foot high awaiting my return.

You see, my US Airways frequent flier miles were going to expire and they gave me the chance to turn them in for magazine subscriptions.  And I did.  Now, our house is like a fracking dentist’s office.  There’s something really decadent about having so many magazines.  Sure, two weeks ago I was sipping ouzo at a seaside cafe in Nafplio.  That was probably closer to actual decadence.  But here, in Columbia, sitting by the pool (another great thing about coming home) and reading Glamour and Bon Appetit is a pretty luxurious Saturday (unless there’s another electrical storm).

I’m also relishing the perspective that traveling gives you.  I could have gone ballistic when that guy on line at the bank kept talking on his cell phone through his entire transaction while shoving deposit slips with wordless grunts at those nice old ladies at Bank of America.  Instead, I reminded myself that in Greece that same dude would be on a motorcycle, not wearing a helmet, driving on the sidewalk, balancing a crate of tomatoes on the back of his bike, and, of course, text messaging.

I’m also experiencing a rush from how familiar everything is, how easy.  I can read street signs – not just kind of sound them out but read them!  I can go up to a counter and order without practicing what I’m going to say for ten minutes beforehand.  In Greece, every time I ordered a tiropita I felt a little like a nerdy high schooler asking a cheerleader out on a date.  On my first day back in Columbia I went to Starbucks (that’s right, Starbucks people!)  and relished the precision and speed with which I could order my grande, iced Americano with room instead of just grunting “Frap-pay? Frap-pay?” and nodding hopefully.

Soon the bright light of homecoming will be gone and I will just be sad that we’re not on vacation.  It will be 105 degrees with 110% humidity, all of the magazines will be flipped through and the romance of foreign places will begin its siren song.  I’ll look around this town and be annoyed at how we all just let it all hang out.  How the customer is always right.  How we want things the way we want them when we want it.  Parents will be mowing me down with triple-wide strollers and bumper stickers on the back of pickups will sneer at me with the stars and bars.  But right now, after struggling (blissfully, I should add) through another culture’s language and menus and stray, feral cats (more on that later), I just want  coffee in a plastic cup and a trashy magazine and it’s good to be home.

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