|Giant snake we saw on our bike ride when we got back to Denver- We aren't in New Zealand anymore!|
|I chose this Kiwi color without even thinking about it|
Our reentry to the United States after four months Down Under has been as good as perhaps can be expected, at least in a practical sense: The flight and customs were uneventful, we unpacked our suitcases and the most critical storage boxes within a few days, and our wedding photos are back on the walls in the living room. Fran jumped back full-steam into work and public service (on the Public Defender Commission), and Jeremy headed off to two weeks at sleep away camp without too much fuss (although he was disappointed he would miss Denver Pride).
|Jeremy enjoying camp|
|Date night: It's fun to come back to TEDx as a former speaker!|
Several things have struck us in our new, Kiwi-fied state, most notably all of the people, cars, stuff, and trash. We were surprised how long it took to relearn how to drive on the right side of the road again. One poignant culture shock example was when at a restaurant, a server plopped a pile of paper napkins down on our table, unrequested, and then when we didn't use them, threw them all away. We were horrified. You might expect me to also say "reintroduction to American politics," but we didn't get any break from that when we were away- the Kiwis were well-acquainted with what was going on in the U.S., and there was no escaping the news.
|Three huge "rubbish bins" at the park- unheard of in New Zealand!|
|Bizzare Americans- dollars hanging from ceiling at the Bucksnort Cafe|
Actually, the biggest emotional adjustment coming home has been our family situation- We were all quite cozy for those four months, spending nearly every waking hour in each other's presence. Although it took us a full month to get acclimated to this new, sometimes uncomfortable arrangement, after that we marveled at how much we were enjoying each other's company.
|The week we returned, we were greeted with the "Masterpiece" Supreme Court ruling- so back to The Capitol we went for a rally.|
Once we got back, with Jeremy at camp and Fran at her computer, I am left feeling lonely for my family. Fran says, "Aw!" and gives me a sympathetic squeeze before rushing back to her mountain of work. Jeremy actually wrote us three letters from camp, and I treasure each one, reading his dyslexic scrawl again and again, occasionally coming up with new meanings. I can't wait to retrieve him, even if it means less time to myself.
|Pride was strange without Jeremy, but we had fun being childless, too|
The things that have helped reverse culture-shock:
1) Continuing to act like a tourist: An American we met in New Zealand advised us to explore new things once we got home. "Continue the feelings of excitement and discovery," she said. Since coming home, I have been to the Denver Botanic Gardens, Golden, The Rhubarb Festival, and new restaurants with Fran. It has helped.
|The type of photo I took as a tourist in my own backyard- a sign selling oxygen at a shop in Pine, CO (8,448 ft/ 2,575m above sea level)|
|Columbines, our state flower, taken at Denver Botanic Gardens|
2) People expressing honest interest in hearing about our trip: Thank you, everyone, for watching our 1 Second Everyday video, for asking questions and listening to the answers and then asking more questions. It really has helped.
|Fran being a tourist at Mile High Stadium (in her New Zealand gear) with dear friend Morris Price|
|Hanging out with David and Peter, whom we met in New Zealand, at a new restaurant in Denver|
|Back on the bikes in Denver!|
|Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (and us) after a game with England|
And with that, I leave you, dear reader. I may still post from time to time, but I have a new textbook edition to write, students to mentor, a son to raise and a wife to... well, that's not your business. But in any case, I thank you for making this blog worthwhile by reading it; it has meant more to me than you can know.
|Jeremy with "his" horse, when we picked him up from camp|