Home, Redefined

"Sam! Sam! You'll never believe what I just did!"


"Brushed my teeth with water from the faucet!"

"OHMYGODYOU'REGOINGTODIE - wait... Can we do that here?"

It's been quite a week. Just when you think you have everything figured out... life, curve ball, blah blah fridge magnet sentiment. Due to unforeseeable events, we suddenly found ourselves back in Wisconsin. You know, that cold, white place we left nearly four years ago in an attempt to see what pleasures the world held beyond cows.

And here we are. Or will be, for the next four months. Mid-August we'll be hitting the road for a new teaching job in a distant locale. For the moment, though, Sam and I are back in the country of our birth. And it's seriously creeping us out.

"What took you so long in the bathroom?"

"There wasn't anyplace to throw out the toilet paper. I couldn't figure out what to do!"

"... you're not adjusting well, are you?"

Returning to the US has resulted in the most profound culture shock we've ever experienced. It's seriously crippled our ability to do things. I'm not even talking about the big stuff, like decoding health insurance policies. I mean behaving like functioning adults in the grocery store.

"What milk do you want? Regular, skim, 2%, 6.83%, low-fat, reduced low-fat, extra-lite, or zesty?"


Sam has had to bodily remove me from grocery aisles. I become transfixed by dryer sheets and full-wall displays of mayonnaise. My brain shorts out mid-step, unable to processes the existence of an entire aisle of dog food. There are apparently people who lose irreplaceable minutes of their lives gravely deciding between low fiber/reduced sodium kibble bites (certified organic) or high fiber/low cal chow with Real Meat Flavor. Even the dogs have first world problems here.

And has anyone even noticed that America is in the throes of a zombie apocalypse? The place looks deserted. I jog daily through our Milwaukee neighborhood and have seen a total of 1 person, 4 cars, and 2 slavering dogs (whose owners had clearly gone the way of the walking dead and thus neglected to put out the kibble bites, leaving them prepared to settle for free-range, high-cholesterol human flesh). Where is everyone?

"Let's cross the street."

"No. There's no traffic. It has to be a trap."

The problem is worse because these days we don't really know where home is. After moving to Southeast Asia, I was overcome with homesickness for Korea. Since landing here, I've caught myself referring to Saigon as "back home." When asked to name our country of residence, we look at each other blankly. Technically, we  belong here; reality feels like freaky déjà vu.

So for the next few months, we'll write about this bizarre foreign land called "home."