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around the world and back again...

2.20.2011

And now I have culture shock.

ish?

Dear Peter Jordan, would you consider revising your Re-Entry book so as to include a chapter called "How to Talk to People You Might See Again"?

That's right, I've completely lost my ability to talk normally with those that I could potentially see on a regular basis. Tour life has conditioned my social skills in such a way that I've become excellent at talking to those whom I know I will never see again. Why? Because I don't have to remember what they say. Call me shallow? Okay. But I challenge you to stay in a different stranger's house almost every night for sixteen months and remember everything you hear. Ooooooo.

Now, quickly, if you're looking back on my last post and wondering what has happened to me in the past few months since my children went home... know that I miss them and the team more than I'd miss my toes if you cut them all off. There's a reason I didn't "blah-g" about it... okay? Okay.

But now that I'm home for good (mini-jaunt to Asia for a month post-tour was lovely but totally postponed my "re-entry" period), I feel like a fish out of water, or better yet, that bird from Rudolf that swims: I'm most comfortable/I belong on the island of misfit toys and yet Santa has taken me away to live in the real world! I'm completely lost in my own town.

So if you've talked to me in the past week or so, the conversation may have gone something like this:

You: "Amy! Hi! Are you back now?"
Me: "Hi. Yep, I'm home, this isn't a hologram."
You: (awkward laugh) "Well it's good to have you back."
Me: "Yep, good to be home.... "
You: (feeling a bit awkward due to the lack of normal conversation, you're probably wondering why I'm not asking you how you've been etc., but truth be told I'm probably so antsy in my fear of what you'll ask/say that it hasn't come to mind to ask you anything, let alone how you are) "Ooooh-kaaay... Well have a great day!"
Me: "yep, you too, k bye!"

----OR----

You: "Amy! Hi! Are you back now?"
Me: "Hi! I am back! So how long have you been around here?"
You: "Um... well I've been here since 1823..."
Me: "Oh good, good, so is your family around here too?"
You: "Um... my kids..."
Me: "That must be nice to have them close. How old are they?"
You: "Amy? Amy? Are you okay, Amy? You've known me since you were 5, Amy? Earth to Amy?"
Me: (run.)

Observations?
From the first:
1. I probably forgot your name. OR, I never knew you and you just saw my name/face somewhere and are kind and brave enough to come talk to me and welcome me home. Either way, I salute you. I apologize for my memory failures/lack of social courage.
2. If I forgot your name, or if I never knew you, I probably feel like at some point I knew your name and you, but, I've forgotten, therefore I'm afraid to ask questions that I may or may not be expected to know the answer to, and am therefore afraid that I'll offend you by exposing the fact that I actually know nothing about you.
3. I get really excited when I'm uncomfortable in a conversation and it ends. Don't be offended, please, Oscar the Grouch was less grouchy when he said goodbye, and it was nothing personal, it was just him.

From the second:
1. I've reverted into tour-mode.
2. You may wonder if I'm really listening to you. Rest assured, I'm listening. The conversation may have gone on for a while with me asking great questions. I am definitely listening. I may even say a prayer for you before I go to bed, I may remember some profound truth from the conversation and write it down. No doubt about it, I'm listening.
3. Tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, I may not know you from Adam (or Eve).

So note: I believe I'm experiencing culture shock in an incredibly odd way. Please don't hold it against me that I might be awkward or rude or even stand-off-ish. I'm working up the courage to come and say hello to you, but I'm like the Cowardly Lion and I haven't quite reached the Wizard for my courage. I'll get there, the yellow brick road can't go on forever.


(Side note: If you know who I am but you know I don't know who you are, please, I beg you, pretend like you don't know who I am, or you'll just slow this whole re-entry process down and I'll probably pretend my phone is ringing or I'll suddenly really have to go somewhere or something will happen to get out of the conversation. Just so you know.)