I'm at home, surrounded by freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I'm actually at my brother's house in Pittsburgh. I arrived back the night before last. The day I was travelling was the longest day I've ever had, and I say that literally. It was a 36 hour day. I saw the sun go down and come up, but it was still the same day in the morning. In fact, my plane from Korea left at 5pm on July 15th, it was a 10 hour flight. Then, after a 5 hour lay over in San Fran, my flight to Pittsburgh took off 4pm July 15th. Fun.
My brother with his wife and 3 kids met me at the airport. It was so strange seeing a familiar face. It was so...familiar. They've been showing me a really good time. My brother owns Prints Charming Photography
. It was cool to see his office and all the ways which it's grown. In many ways I'm glad I'm not involved in running a business, and yet in many ways I'm recognizing that owning your own company may be the most free way to live in this country. It's the only way not to have a boss, and the only ones who can fire you are you customers, but they seem to love him.
We spent a lot of time during our COS conference and a lot of time just talking in general about how hard it is to readjust when you get back. It's harder to come back to the states than it is to leave in the first place...much. It's true too. Sometimes I feel like my skin, language, accent, and all physical characteristics are American, but inside, I'm this cross-breed Ameri-Mongol. It's all coming back to me, but slowly. Everywhere I go in my peripheral hearing, people are speaking English. It's weird to understand every little thing that someone is saying. I haven't needed to block out other people's conversations for a long time because I never knew exactly what they were talking about, and if the person spoke English, I made it my business to figure our why they're in Mongolia. The other Americans I lived with all adopted Mongolian ways as well, so all manners of Americanisms are spinning my head.
I can, for the first time, sort of see how the rest of the world sees Americans. Even at the airport in Seoul, Korea the Americans were the ones making a big stink about how long the ticket check-in line was. I'm thinking to myself, we're all stuck in this terminal until the plane leaves anyway. What's the big deal if it's sitting down or waiting in a line? And in the place and time, another Americn couple kept yelling at their kid to come over to them, sit, and be quiet. The kid was being really quiet and looking out the window just 10 feet away, but the parents got crazy upset and snatched the kid up forcefully so that the kid started crying. This happened like 4 more times, and every time, when the kid wandered away, the two would talk to each other about how impossible this kid is. I couldn't take it. Why can't a kid wander off for 10 feet and look at the plane out the window? I never would have considered it before, but now I can't help but think that it came more from the parents obsessive need to control than from anything related to safety. Mongolian children are mainly ignored. Parents there teach their kids virtues like patience and peacefullness by showing them, consistantly, what it means to be patient and peacefull. They never raise their voices. And while it's hard to take at first, they never discipline their kids for not listneing. If the children are too rowdy, they calmly say, "That's enough". If the kid doesn't obey, they say it again in the same tone. This might continue, but they never get upset or even acknowledge the child's behavior. It seems crazy, but for the most part, by the time a kid is 7 or 8, he or she has adopted the parent's peace and mild manner. I'm just trying to say, kids aren't punished for being kids. They are severely punished for doing something actually wrong, but for not listening or being too active or other things that kids do naturally, they are left to be kids in the same way that a baby is never punished for crying or pooping or spitting up.
The first resturant I went to in the States was at the San Fran airport. We were in a group of 5 RPCVs. We all went straight to the counter to order our food, but the man at the counter directed us to please sit at a table if we didn't want to take the food to go. We sat down and a waitress came up pretty quick, just to let us know that she'd come again soon. When it came time to order, the first person in our party wanted a chicken sandwich. The waitress asked if he wanted cheese. Ok, he'll take cheese, he said. What kind of cheese, she asked, colby? american? swiss? cheddar? The five of us looked at eachother with our mouths open. In mongolia, food comes how it comes. Usually your first 2 choices off the menu are not availible, and then even when it is there, you can't be sure that you'll actually get the thing you asked for. Here, we were being confronted with MORE choice. It blew our minds. But then the very next question was, would you like potato salad, cole slaw, or french fries? It was almost too much, just give him a chicken sandwich. But that's the American way. I'm sure none of these things will bother me soon enough, but I'm know the bigger, more impacting, cultural differences are awaiting me.
I'm missing sorely some of the things and mostly the people I've left behind. Part of me wants to buy a plane ticket back, even if just for another week. But I know that I have to go through this sometime. I find myself thinking in Mongolian and wanting to speak it, but there's no one to speak with. And all of those little Mongolian expressions that I salted my English with constantly are useless here. Yanaa, ee chavaas, yamar sonin yum be, baihaa.
I'll be in the groove soon. I start my new job in a month, and seeing my brother's kids has been worth all of this. From what they say, little Riley doesn't like any new people, especially men, but she is all over me and loves for me to carry her and to sit on my lap. How cool! She is adorable, as with all of his kids.
I've got to go eat some breakfast. I might have one more blog in me before I retire it along with this chapter in my life. Thanks for being a part of my journey.
Peace and love and faith, hope and love to you all