It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been back in the states for 5 months now. In some ways it feels like we just got here and in others we’ve been here forever.
I still dream about Basel, you know. I still dream through bizarre conversations with my friends Barbara, Kate, Rachel, and Sunrita. I close my eyes find myself walking down my old street or on a tram car going to Marktplatz. Knowing that the Christmas Market, with their Gluwein and crepes and lovely shopping booths, is in full swing makes me feel even more glum.
We have heard of Christmas Markets happening around the area. I might track one of them down and make a family outing of it. I did find a recipe on the Swiss embassy website for Gluwein and I am totally going to make it. I just have to buy some star anise and then I’m in business.
But life is moving along here. We are starting to travel more by taking a quick trip to Chicago soon and looking at other places to visit. Mark is back into the DC commuting and work routine. The house we are renting is becoming more lived in (i.e. messy) and the boys refer to it as “home”.
The boys are also completely settled into their schools and I’m so relieved. We’ve even passed the first quarter of school and gotten report cards to commemorate the event. We have gotten through Halloween and had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Now we just have to conquer Christmas and we will have finished up the holiday trifecta for 2016.
As part of conquering Christmas I went shopping at Target. It was only my third trip to Target since moving back. I still feel slightly disoriented and my head whips from side to side as I try to take in the cacophony of stuff available to buy. Then when I was going to check out and actually buy the mounds of stuff that had sifted their way into my cart I was nicely told off for trying to get in line.
It turns out the lines for the register weren’t actually at the registers or even near the registers. Instead I was directed to a row of those black tape crowd controllers that you see in airports that compress people into efficient snake-like rows of rage.
I joined the line behind 15 other people somewhere beyond the greeting cards and into the office supply section. The general snarkiness and grumbling under the breathe that is required of those standing in snake-like rows of rage commenced and about 20 minutes later I was being rung up by a lovely clerk.
We were just about done when we found out that I’d picked the only pair of boys sized 12 pajamas without a price tag on it. She looked a me and then at the pajamas and asked, “Do you really need this?”
I took the question more philosophically than she intended and gave it long and careful thought before answering with incredible sincerity, “Yes. Yes, I do.”
That was not probably the best answer. I spent the next 20 minutes squeezed up to the front of the register line as she checked out 4 more people and a shy boy sporting thin wisps of a wannabe beard ran off into the Target Hinterlands to figure out what the price might be.
I got home having spent about $100 more than I intended and so worn out I needed a rest and a martini.
So things are almost completely back to normal for me, too!
Joking aside, I am starting to integrate back into US society. But while time is going by fast, our re-acclimation is slow. We don’t have time to process anything. I feel like we are being rushed around in about a dozen different directions and finding our “slow times” is almost impossible.
Even the boys notice things here are on a quicker schedule. They have a hard time getting playtime with their friends because everyone is signed up for an activity every day of the week and no one is home before 7pm. And there isn’t so much time with Dad in the evenings because his commute is longer now.
It is provoking some philosophical thoughts for both Mark and I about how we want to live. What is possible for us within the limitations or boundaries of the US culture? What lifestyle are we modeling for our children?
We discuss these and other questions after the children go to bed over glasses of wine. And right now we haven’t come up with any answers. One day we might. One day a spark of an idea might flare up and we will finally have the answer.
Until then we have joined a wine club and are stocking up for the foreseeable future.