It's been almost two years since I've been in the United States, and all of these two years away have been spent in the Middle East. The closest I got to the West was Istanbul in August 2011. I know some things about the US are going to freak me out at first. In the past, after a long time away, it's been the sheer enormity of the grocery stores and the American style of dress. What will it be this time? The sight of price tags in dollars? The high cost of gas? The sight of non-Filipino service staff at restaurants? The complete lack of dudes hanging out in shalwar kameez or kandura? So many white people in one place? Nobody staring at me or my kids? No call to prayer? I can't wait to find out.
I may have to adjust my driving habits. Jeremy always laughs at me because I never stop at stop signs anymore (there is a real possibility of getting rear-ended if you do) and I have learned to drive so aggressively here. And will I miss roundabouts? I might. Stoplights are so uncommon here. I find that when I do encounter them I hardly have the patience to just sit there and wait instead of exercising my brain trying to find a gap in three lanes of roundabout traffic.
FOOD. Let's just say that I will probably gain weight this summer. Just the thought of all the American delicacies waiting for me makes me a little bit crazy. York Peppermint Patties, Tillamook ice cream, Tillamook cheese, decent breakfast cereal, those boxed chocolate milks from Costco, canned olives (they have those here, but while I'm sure they are more authentic, they are also really strong), American chicken bouillon cubes (really!), ranch dressing, fresh milk (like non-UHT - I've forgotten how it tastes), and cheap strawberries and blueberries and Fuji apples. See what I mean? Oh, and bacon. I haven't had bacon in two years.
Linguistically, I'm going to keep my ears open for any Americanisms that have appeared since we were last in the US. And also enjoy hearing the American accent. I'm also curious if my own accent/speech patterns have changed. I hope someone has the guts to call me out on it if they notice anything.
What will it be like to return to American Mormondom?
I have two nieces and two nephews who I've never met. And as my little brother pointed out to me on FB recently, I haven't seen him (or my other siblings) in years. Literally.
But before I get to all that, there's the plane trip to worry about. First 16 hours to LAX, then a couple of hours to SLC, then a few hours' drive to Idaho Falls. When all is said and done, I will have been on the road for over 24 hours. It's amazing to travel across the world in such a short time, don't you think? Wish me luck.