I’ve now been back from Chile for over two weeks, so it’s high time that I provide an update on my readjustment, as I’m sure you’ve all been on the edges of your seats.
I’m told that it had been a very mild winter here while I was gone, but I returned home to three full days of rain (the first rain of the entire winter). I systematically savored the trappings of winter that were left: peppermint mochas, my electric blanket, the bare trees and stark white sky.
I was delighted to see my cats again, since they were the only ones to whom I hadn’t been able to explain where and why I was going. They gave me the cold shoulder at first, but soon enough they were curling up to sleep on my feet and pillow again, every night. I shall never leave them again, until I do.
While I had braced myself for culture shock, I experienced only a tiny amount. I found the grocery store startling, what with its abundance of familiar products. For the first week I was back, whenever I needed to ask a stranger a question (e.g. in shops), I would feverishly start composing what I’d say in Spanish to them, in my head, before approaching them. Chile felt completely different from California, of course, but since Chile is one of the best-developed countries in South America, it felt less different.
Other than that, I slipped back into my old life with great ease. It seemed almost as though the Chilean Molly and the American Molly were two different entities, and perhaps they are.
My first week back also happened to be an extra-busy week for my job, so I spent a chunk of time each day working on that. I also rejoiced in the availability of English-language books, went to campus to pick up my college diploma, finished a jigsaw puzzle in two days (before the cats could destroy it), started and finished watching the first season of Downton Abbey, and cooked a delicious winter vegetable soup in my crockpot.
There’s a song that says, “I haven’t been gone very long, but it feels like a lifetime.” I quite agree. I’d also add, “I haven’t been back very long, but it feels like a lifetime.” I am awash with lifetimes.