I have been in the United States for the past 10 days in meetings for my project to incorporate US data with the French data I have been using for the past few months. Sitting in the airport now, I can’t help but draw parallels between the last 10 days in the Birmingham and my first 10 days in Bordeaux. It’s been a struggle being back in the States and I am a bit emotionally exhausted. I think they call that reverse culture shock.
Many of the things I have come to find unappealing about the US were thrown in my face quickly upon arrival. I needed to get blood work done for my corporate insurance (we get a big discount for maintaining healthy cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar). I scheduled the first appointment at 7 am on my first day back because I knew I would be up at 4 am with the jet lag. When I pulled up to the curb to park my car, I opened my door slightly but noticed another car coming so I pulled it back in. When the car had passed, I opened the door again only to have the woman in the passenger seat from that car scream at me and call me any number of obscenities for not paying better attention. Road rage. Why are Americans so hostile when surrounded by a ton of steel and plastic? Loss number 1….
Work was tough too. So many projects had piled up from inattention and I needed to meet with so many people just to get caught up. I also found that many of the office intrigues and frustrations from when I left were still there. On top of that I found myself compelled to “go go go” at a pace that wore me out. I am not sure why I thought things would be different that when I left. I guess I really didn’t but I really believed my emotional response to the challenges would change after my life altering experience in France. It did not. This made me realize I am going to need to do a bit more soul searching to bring inner peace with me back from Europe next time. I am not sure whether call this loss number 2 for my inability to maintain my peace or win number 1 for realizing I still have work to do.
Not sure if I mentioned it in earlier blog posts, but I sold my car when I moved to France. So when I got back to the States, I had to rent a car to get around. I really did not enjoy being tethered to a car again but alas they seem to be a necessary evil in my town. When I returned the car, Hertz stuck me with a $23.99 per day insurance fee that I did not remember authorizing. This would end up costing me $215 total. The fee is probably is totally my fault for agreeing to something at the counter I didn’t understand when I was in such a rush to just get going. The funny thing is I ordered the car in my native tongue but clearly was not paying close enough attention. Loss number 2 or 3 depending on how I count losses.
My son spent the week at his grandparents farm in rural Alabama and had so much fun. My father in law has a dog (border collie) that my son absolutely adores. In addition his cousins came down to visit him and he is really close to them so he really had a ton of fun. When he got back to Birmingham, he was a little sullen and confessed to me that he does not want to go back to France. Oh how that tears at my sensitive little heart strings that are already raw from the weeks failures. Loss number 3 or 4.
Don’t worry, this is going to turn a corner. First of all I am excited to be heading back to Bordeaux. I can’t wait to see what spring has changed in my adopted city. As I was sitting in the Delta Sky Club…wait I feel I need to explain myself. Yes I do pay for that because I am a marketer’s dream. They gave me 2 months free several years ago that automatically renewed after a trial period and I loved it so much, I just keep renewing it. Well anyway, now that I have absolved my guilt at something I deem a bit extravagant, the story. So I went up to the bar to order sparkling wine. As you may remember from other posts, this is my absolute favorite beverage in any country. Usually I have to pay for this luxury (in a club I already pay for) but today it was free. The bartender said they just started the free sparkling wine today. Maybe he saw my face or maybe it’s true but I am taking this for my first big win in a series of wins I hope to have back in Bordeaux!