Reemergence--Coming back to USA after 2 years in Uruguay

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Aug 7, 2015
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I recently flew back to the Pacific Northwest and spent a couple days in LA. It is a long, long flight from Montevideo to LA! I have to say everything was much easier than I imagined. After being gone for some time, I had some anxiety about coming back to Trump's America. Would it feel more militarized? Would I have any unpleasant encounters with people worked up and frothing over the state of things? Had I changed, and would I feel odd among my family and friends?

These are some moments that struck me:

* When I arrived at LAX, I was directed to the line for those with a US passport. A big sign said Welcome Home, and a lady in a uniform looked at me and smiled, repeating the message"welcome home." Home? Where's home? I felt the weight of leaving. I no longer have a geographic location I call home. I felt some longing, and knew that I had irrevocably changed.

* Everyone in my extended family had also changed. They were lighter, more friendly, less judgmental, more interesting, and easier to converse with. It struck me that perhaps some of this was me. I had dropped so much emotional baggage. I no longer needed my validation card stamped with every encounter. I was more open-handed, less needy, and more grown up.

* I got my international driver's license at AAA. I felt an instinctive dread as we set about this task. "Oh brother, this is going to eat up a good two hours." I pictured getting a number from a red dispenser, sitting in cheap plastic chairs, people fumbling and struggling with machines that didn't work, and some inexplicable hangup that would surely send us home for the day without the document. None of this happened. We were in and out of there in a half hour. Everything was light and bright and efficient. I looked slightly dumbfounded at the young lady who performed this magic. I said something stupid like "You guys are so organized here!" She gave me a look and said "It's LA."

* I ate three Cobb salads in two days. They don't really have good salads here, and no blue cheese. I was so damn grateful. And the Tom Kah soup was out of this world. Over two years without Thai.

* At the end of my trip I was standing with my suitcases in front of my daughter's apartment building, waiting for the Lyft driver. A perfectly clean one-gallon Ziplock blew past me. I started to grab it and said "That's a new Ziplock! I might need it for something!" They don't have good baggies here, and if you could find them they would be expensive. My daughter stopped me. "Don't touch that thing! Somebody might have pissed or spit in it! I have a hundred of them upstairs if you need one!"

* We ate in a restaurant, and the napkin was thick and soft. It felt too good to use. I folded it and put it in my backpack.
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