It’s funny. We’ve been in Texas for just a little over a week (having arrived last Sunday, the 22nd), and yet we already feel as if we never left, the 2 1/2 years in Grand Junction notwithstanding. B. and I speculate that it’s a coping mechanism/trick the brain employs to alleviate the shock of leaving one place and settling in another, especially if the transition is short and quick like ours was. From the moment B. received the job offer to the day we actually left GJ was just a little over two weeks. Talk about abrupt.
B. started working at the hospital today, and for a wild moment I imagined that it was all an April’s Fools’ Day joke, that his supervisor would greet him at the door with, “Hey, we were just kidding! We didn’t really offer you a job!” In actuality, though, they apparently weren’t expecting him until Monday, but it worked out okay as he spent most of the day running around campus, finishing up paperwork and getting to know the lay of the land. Since his contract says that April 1st is his start date, he’s in good shape.
It’s a very strange experience, sort of a reverse culture shock, that may be even more acute than what I went through when I moved back to Dallas after two years in Japan. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit older, but it really has been an adjustment being here. I imagine it’s partly because my mom retired to the Philippines literally two days after we arrived (no worries, this was something she had planned months, years ago, so she didn’t flee the country just because we were back in town!), so there’s that void. We’re also in a sort of limbo, as the new apartment that we’ve signed up for won’t be ready until the middle of May, so we’re camping out at my brother and sister-in-law’s house until then. They’ve been exceedingly kind and accommodating to us, and I love being around my one-year-old niece, but it’s different when it’s your own place, you know? And it can’t be easy to have long-term guests in your own home, even though we basically live on their 2nd floor while they occupy the rest of the house. Still, it’s wonderful knowing that we didn’t have to worry about finding a place to live right away.
The one thing neither of was truly prepared for, though, was the traffic. I’d always known that Dallas traffic gets worse every year, but have the drivers always been this aggressive and downright reckless? For god’s sake, a school bus overtook me in a 20-mph school zone yesterday. I’ve never been afraid of driving on city freeways and interstates, but lately it seems more like a death wish than a route from Point A to Point B. Yesterday the evening news shows were filled with reports about a 72-year-old school crossing guard who was struck and killed by a drunk driver. At eight in the morning.
Yeah, it’s times like these that I realize just how quiet and relatively safe I felt in Grand Junction, compared to the big city.
Still, it’s lovely to be back with the families again. To know that anytime I wanted to patronize a Filipino restaurant, I could do so within the hour. (When I lived in GJ, anytime I traveled I would check the local listings to see if there was a Filipino restaurant in the area. Salt Lake City, you really need to get some entrepreneurial Pinoy foodies to move to your fair metropolis.) To be able to shop for just about anything I want, from organic soy candles handmade by a local artisan to Choc-Nut bars at the Asian market to cool-if-overpriced-and-overhyped organizing bins at the Container Store. Oh, and yes, it’s nice to have Ikea nearby, even though realistically I’ll probably go there no more than once a year.
I miss GJ like crazy. I miss my friends, my favorite editor (Josh, you rock!), my favorite coffee shops (Coffee Muggers and Colorado Java House), the view outside my office window of Colorado National Monument, the running trail just behind my house. When we first set foot in GJ over Labor Day weekend in 2006, we weren’t sure what we had gotten ourselves into and were wondering if we would ever get used to living there. Just two and a half years later, it turns out to be one of the best little secrets in America.
But now we’re here, and we’re going to make the most of it. Back home with family, back home where we were both raised, back home where the familiar and the new collide.
It’s just great to be back.