Nov 21, 2010
Likely this blog thing will be a short term interest but since I am up in the middle of the night with jet lag - why not? Not sure why anyone other than my family would be interested in the my thoughts but then again people watch "the housewives of XXXX" so who knows?
Athough during my decade plus overseas, I came back to the US more than 70 times on business trips - moving back is quite a different kettle of fish. Over the years I began to feel about America the way I always felt about NY - "great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there"
Sunday was my first full day in the US as a "resident" since Bill Clinton was president. Until we close on our house south of the city, we are calling a hotel in the South Park area home. Charlotte is a beautiful city and the late fall weather is great. What's not to like? My run was very familiar - I always stayed in this area on business trips so I feel very comfortable. The thing that strikes me as I go through the day is how clean, pretty and quiet Charlotte is compared to the wild west feeling of Shanghai and how, in this area of town, almost everyone is white and dresses the same. I am used to being the only white person in the room much of the time and the only native speaker of English. In China, I am used to using very basic English much of the time to be understood or struggling to communicate in the local language.
Church was very different here compared to China (yes, we went to a Catholic church in "communist" China). Foreigner's can worship in the big cities in China, locals need to go "underground". In Shanghai, the English mass is probably attended by people from 40 to 50 countries from all continents. Our priests were Chinese and Australian. In the upscale part of Charlotte, I saw 99% white and got the feeling I was looking at a video from an "yuppy clothing catalog" - not bad but not something familiar to me.
After a jet lag induced nap (better to skip the trouncing our local NFL team took), we went to a huge upscale grocery store to stock the kitchenette in our two room suite. I have to say shopping is a joy at this monster store. We bought staples and take out sushi/edamame to have for dinner. They even have ginger root so I can make ginger "tea" here. Even when we shopped at the major foreign stores in Shanghai, local law required the English label be covered over with Chinese label that was almost always impossible to remove without destroying the English label. I never understood why the government felt it was necessary to slap Chinese label on goods being purchased 98% of the time by people that couldn't read Chinese OR why thy couldn't put the Chinese label somewhere else on the box so both could be read. After a few years in Asia we had learned to make do rather than to question each affront to common sense.
As we checked out, I was surprised that our store VIP card (it was the flagship store from a chain we used to patronize in the 1990s). The card still works, 15 years after it was issued. Kind of like we never left......
Anyway, as we ate sushi and humus in between trips to the coin laundry down the hall, the day was a mix of the comfortingly familiar and the "just slightly off". I watched more football on Sunday than I have in the past five years. I went to bed pleased to see the Eagles beat the Giants. As a lover of dogs, I was incensed at the Michael Vick situation but if one thing is "American" it is a redemption story. I am rooting for Michael Vick. He has given me a reason to do another thing that used to be normal - watch football. I want to believe he has changed and learned his lesson. What does Michael Vick have to do with our repatriation? A lot, the Asian cultures are much less likely to "buy-in" to a redemption story. More evidence that despite feeling odd at being back here, I am American and will be fine.......