Life in the US

I was talking to the Boy tonight and giggling gleefully about all the craaaaazy new contraptions I’ve discovered upon living, really living, in the US for the first time in two and a half years. And now, I understand why people think this is the land of milk and honey: we have everything! And it’s moderately priced (as long as I don’t multiply prices by 7 to put them into rand)!

My new apartment, while located ages from a metro station and in an amenity-less “emerging” neighborhood, has enough gadgets to keep me SUCH a happy bunny. I have a dryer!!! Which means that for the first time in ages I have my very own, completely dry fluffy, big towels! This might seem like a little thing, but after London, where nothing ever dries properly, and South Africa, where I used those horrible travel towels the whole time (because buying proper ones seemed like an extravagance), it feels like the world’s biggest luxury. And, although I can’t imagine needing it for just one person, I have a dishwasher and A MICROWAVE (we didn’t have one in London, so I’m kind of in awe of not needing to spend 10 minutes heating up some soup and needing to wash the pot afterwards). OMG.

This last thing’s the best though. The Boy was thoroughly amused and a bit patronizing about it, but I refuse to be deterred. So, I have two window units, one in the bedroom and one in the main room that are both heaters and air conditioners (A/C! Be still my heart!). And they operate by REMOTE CONTROL!!! So, I have this plan to wake up with my alarm, turn on the heat, push the snooze button, then get up when the heater’s had 10 minutes to take the frost off. Pure luxury. Only in America.

This is all, of course, in addition to my tendency to wander around stores, particularly the grocery store, in a daze wondering where all of this came from and why on earth we need so much of it. In the recent past, I may have had a short freak-out over the need for 10 ft. of shelving devoted solely to pickles. Seriously?! I’ve also been acting like a bit of a n00b, as I bumble my way around DC and the metropolitan area. What’s startling is how willing people are to help and how many strangers strike up conversations with me.

It’s one of the things I’ve noticed about myself since I got back from the Peace Corps: I feel much more willing to strike out without a plan or directions. And, more importantly, I’m willing to have conversations with perfect strangers. It was always awkward in SA and still is (a bit), but I feel more willing to be open and more willing to hear their stories (and met some very cool people as a result). I feel more confident in places that probably would have sketched me out before. I think this will sound weird, but I feel even more comfortable around persons of color than ever before. I think living in South Africa made me super, super aware that despite differences, people who live in the United States have more in common than we often realize. And for some reason, I seem to have a bit of serious street cred, because I lived in Africa.

I do, however, have to fight the urge to call every older woman, especially the African-American ones, I meet “ma’. I think that might get misinterpreted. And, after three weeks, I’m finally ready to cut back on the root beer. Hurrah!


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