The first time it really hit me that I was moving back to the US, I was in the check-out line at my local grocery store. I was buying meat and ice cream for that night. Then I had this wild, crazy thought: in the US, I'll have a fridge taller than me! With a freezer! I'll no longer have to consume things like meat and ice cream the day of! And I couldn't help this manic grin creeping across my face.
I may not consider myself the most patriotic American, but there are numerous things I love about the US, and not just giant fridge/freezers. It's also my home, where I was born and raised, and without even realizing it, many of my opinions and expectations have been formed by that. How could they not?
Yet this past weekend was a short trip to Paris. Yes, I have been traveling a lot lately! Not so much to do a whistle-stop tour of Europe before I leave (though that's been a nice side-benefit), but to spend some final precious days with friends before I live much farther away.
Anyway, I was in Paris, in the lobby of the Musee d'Orsay, when my friend got an emergency phone call from work. She spoke rapid French into her cell, and I leaned against a front desk and thought about that Renoir painting, Bal du Moulin de la Galette. In person it makes you feel like one of the crowd, like if you fell forward, you would fall inside the painting, find yourself spinning in some suited stranger's arms, dancing through the park. And amongst the incredible art, the rush of French, the Seine in the distance, it occurred to me that there are some things I'll miss about living in Europe.
But not to worry! This morning it's 55 and pouring rain in Bristol. My mini British fridge is empty, so I have to go grocery shopping--and no car, so that means hauling my groceries home, uphill, through the rain. And once again, I'm looking forward to the move. It's the tangibles that make it real for me--whereas it's the intangibles, the atmosphere, the culture, and of course, my friends, that I'm not sure will feel like real losses until they're very far away.