Yours truly just returned from a very quick trip stateside, for deeply fascinating reasons I don’t intend to write about. Deal with it. I wondered, before I left, if returning to American waters would reverse my cultural acclimation to England, and turn me back into that bipolar expat hot mess I so thoroughly explored our first months here.
Instead, I found myself marveling at all the conspicuous use of natural resources. The huge ride-on mowers driven over small strips of grass. The sprinklers. The large large cars and the wide wide roads that lead straight on for miles and miles. The massive stores. The free parking. The air-conditioning. The glasses full of ice. The free wifi. The huge street lights.
The friendliness. Random strangers smiling and waving at me from their cars. Walkers stopping to chat. Salespeople grinning and shaking hands like old friends. People I never met before doing me favors. Neighbors out on bikes or with dogs calling out greetings as we sat on my parents’ porch.
It’s enough to make a person who has gotten used to English reserve just a little bit nervous. Who are all these people and why are they smiling at me? Americans are as generous with their expressions and willingness to engage as they are with their use of petroleum and size of their stores or dinner plates. We reach out. We work hard. We play hard. We want more, and we’re not afraid to say so, or to share what we have. We smile.
Smile, England. I’m back.