I’m sitting at my desk typing this post with the window open. It’s warm and a bit muggy. I can hear the pitter-patter of the steady rain as it falls outside. I want to turn the lights on in the house because the heavy gray clouds hanging low in the sky are making it really dark and gloomy in here. And I’m not in England anymore. I am back home, in Indiana.
We’ve officially been back since Friday, July 29. Sorry for the radio silence but before we left the UK, we were busy, busy, busy, and then we set out on our last European vacation, at least the last one for the foreseeable future because I suspect our travels there are not done. Since we’ve returned to Indiana, we’ve moved back into our house, worked on restocking (toilet paper, cleaning supplies, spices, you get the drift), Eric has returned to work and bought a new truck to get him there and back again, the girls have returned to school albeit they are now at different school and riding different buses so our morning routine is very long, soccer season has started, we sign up for dance classes tomorrow, and we’ve met some new neighbors as there seems to have been a lot of change on our little street while we were away. Good changes because they are all very nice and there are lots of new kids. And that is why I am just now getting back to blogging because believe it or not, we still have a lot from our European adventure to share.
So, how is being back in the USA? Well, I’ve discovered there really is a thing called reverse culture shock. I feel as if I’ve been walking around in a daze for the past few weeks, going about the motions of living, but everything here feels kind of strange and I’m not sure what to make of it all. For instance, I went to Starbucks this morning. It’s raining and a mocha was just calling my name. I drove to the nearest location and the line at the drive thru was long, but I had no desire to get into that line anyway even if it was short. You see, in England, there are no drive thrus at coffee shops, at least not any we saw. In fact, they would all think we were down right crazy for getting a cup of coffee in a to go container while sitting in our car. Where is the pleasure in that? Coffee, tea or whatever your hot beverage of choice is meant to be drunk sitting down at the coffee shop with your hands wrapped around a proper mug, and that’s how I wanted my mocha this morning. So I bypassed the drive thru line but after circling the building twice, there wasn’t a single parking spot available. At least this particular Starbucks’ has that in common with the UK – lack of parking spaces. So I left and headed to the next nearest Starbucks, and guess what? The drive thru line was even longer AND there wasn’t a single parking spot available there either. Ugh! So I did what just felt like it was completely against my nature after living in Europe for two years and sat in the crazy long drive thru line, watching for a parking spot to open up but whenever one did, another car snatched it up before I could maneuver my way out of the ridiculously long line of cars.
Now, I’m not trying to say I’m better than everyone else here in the USA so please don’t be insulted if you went through a drive thru this morning because if you want to know how this story ended, I did end up going through the drive thru line myself after all of that, got my coffee to go and am now sitting by myself back at home drinking it out of the fiber or whatever Starbucks makes their to go cups from. It’s just that I’ve seen this all from a much different perspective now. I got use to that different perspective, I liked that different perspective, and I miss that different perspective. I know I will be back through the Starbuck’s drive thru again, but that cup of coffee will not compare to the one I had with the girls at my favorite café Jack’s in a little town called Melbourne just a few miles from where we lived in England where a hot chocolate is served like this...
And it won’t compare to sitting in a cozy tea room located in an old stone building with good friends on a chilly, rainy day and enjoying tea like this.
So now maybe you can understand a little why I feel this undercurrent of melancholy. It’s not about being back in the USA, it’s about not being in England anymore. I miss it, plain and simple.
And that pretty much sums up what the past few weeks have been like for me at least. The girls on the other hand haven’t seemed to skip a beat. They are loving school, loving seeing old friends, making new ones, and couldn’t have been happier spending a quiet weekend at home with all the toys they haven’t seen for nearly two years. Even though this moving to a different country and back has been hard for them at times, I’ve been absolutely amazed at how resilient they are.
Now, on with the story. As I said earlier, I have loads more to share with you over the next month or so. We went back to France for two weeks, spent a weekend in Prague, visited Bavaria, Switzerland, Lake Como, the French Alps, and had more weekend adventures in England too. It’s funny, as I sit here back in our house in Indiana contemplating writing these last blog posts about the rest of our adventures in England and Europe, the image of Bilbo Baggins pops into my head, the one from the opening scene of the first Lord of the Rings movie when he’s sitting alone at his desk in his little hobbit house and he writes the words “There and Back Again: A Hobbit’s Tale” on the parchment paper about to share his great adventure with the world. That may be a tad bit dramatic for our little two year stay in England as we never encountered any dwarves, wizards, dragons, etc., and sadly none of us found a ring that makes you invisible, and our story really isn’t interesting enough to share with the world, but none the less, it was our great adventure and I think I’m feeling like Bilbo because I’m sitting here writing about it when it’s over. We are back on the other side of the pond again and it’s now all just a matter of reflection. So check back in a couple of days. With no trip planning or moving to do in the near future, I have plenty of time to wrap up our own there and back again tale.