culture shock

The Little Differences Are Vast

I-440/I-65 7I am going home to Nashville in a few days. Haven't seen Tennessee in 16 months, not since I stopped there on the way from New York to California, two cats in tow.

A generous friend is loaning me his car and he told me where I could find it near 21st Avenue, a well-known Nashville thoroughfare and area I once knew like my own back yard, but when I read "21st Avenue" I couldn't place it, not even a little. I imagined the interstates in the middle of the city, the snare of intersecting freeways that criss-cross the city, and I could vaguely make out the exit sign in my memory. With more tugging on the synapses I could recollect the area in clearer detail, but this should not happen! I lived in that city for 30 years. How when I hear "21st Avenue" could I not forever and always know immediately what that is and means? 

Driving in and of itself will be a novelty. I just made a trip to the DMV to get my driver license renewed since I didn't even get one in New York, only a state-issued I.D. Will I need GPS to get around my own home? Those interstate exchanges can be tricky. 65, 440, 40, 24. I had to Google "interstates in Nashville" just now, and I almost forgot about 24. How do you forget about 24? The long straight shot from Murfreesboro to Clarksville with a stop in Pleasant View along the way?

In a few days all those old things, the home things, the woven into my being things will be all around me again. Rolling hills and winding roads and green, green as far as the eye can see, especially traveling 75 miles per hour on the freeway to Ashland City. Except it's not called a freeway there, it's an interstate. The little differences are vast.

I'm going home this week. I look forward to hearing the crickets at night. 


The Divide. It's Getting Blurry.

I think it was the second day I'd been in the Bay Area that the difference really hit home. Kevin and I went to Safeway on Solano Avenue in Albany to buy groceries for our food-free new place (after sustaining ourselves on truly novel Popeye's fried shrimp the first night). It was the first trip for either or us to anything known as a Safeway.

It was like Kroger, but it wasn't. Because the prices were all wrong.

$4.50 for a box of Morningstar fake sausage. Milk for upwards of five bucks. You had to have a Club Card to get the reduced prices, but as it was the first trip, there was no card in my wallet. And I was afraid the cash in there might soon not be there as well.

I felt defeated. Even simple things like marinara sauce in a glass jar was 30% more than what I expected to pay. Reality was settling over me like a heavy, dank blanket.

I no longer flinch at $4.50 for a box of fake meats. I've got my Club Card, and know where to find cheap produce at a farmer's market or Mexican grocery, coupled with bargain buys from Trader Joe's.

I guess I am saying that feels like a really long time ago. And like yesterday.


On Weight and Place: Some Advice Needed

I want to write here about how much weight I've lost since moving, but I am scared. Talking about weight is tricky and it is a very sensitive topic. I'd like to focus on the different environmental reasons for this drop in weight, and how it is by virtue of having moved that the pounds came off. There are many reasons for the weight loss, but all of them have to do with being in an area that is conducive to being fit and healthy.

I'd like to talk about how people in the Midwest or the South, who are often more overweight than those in other regions, aren't lazy or dumb or conditioned by families to be fat. It's almost impossible not to be overweight, or at least unhealthy, in some places.

Anyway, I'm scared to. I don't want to come across as bragging, being insensitive or any of that. But my clothes keep not fitting, and it's something I think about a lot.

I'd love to explore that here, but I wonder how it will be received.

How do you think it will go over?


Reverse Culture Shock

I'm gonna be going back home for a week's visit in either July or August, and after reading this note from a Bay Area friend, I kinda can't wait for the reverse culture shock:

You're still new here, but after a while you forget what life outside of CA is like. You go back home and visit fam & friends and wonder WHY everyone there is wearing chinos & polo shirts and why isn't it appropriate to talk about dildos and butt plugs in a coffee shop? Hey, how come talking about the girl who has two mommies is a conversation-ender? And hey, how come I can't buy booze on Sunday? It creeps up on you.

Like I said, can't wait. I imagine going back will be almost as weird as coming out here in the first place.