Sunday, August 16, 2009

We Have A Banana Hanger

There we were, less than twenty-four hours removed from the Summer Palace and Saoziying, back on the east coast of the United States. Everybody tells you coming back is much harder on the psyche then going. So we were ready, waiting for that big wave of reentry shock to roll all over us.

Back behind the wheel of a minivan, winging down a highway surrounded by single-family homes, lush lawns, and all the trappings of suburban America, the realization hit both Desi and me...We can do this! We are having no problem whatsoever moving between these two distant and very different cultures. We still feel right at home here in the United States. And we also feel right at home over there in the Middle Kingdom.

This seamlessness is, at the same time, both comforting and potentially very dangerous. Dangerous in that our minds have quite naturally turned to thoughts of how we might construct lives that, as a matter of course, flow freely and somewhat regularly back and forth across the Pacific. Sure, our future is right here in Silver Spring. But our future also seems to include time spent over there as well.

In the meantime, our return to America has filled us with all kinds of little observations, things we just didn't notice before. Sure, there is the "America is fat" realization. We knew that one was coming. Everybody warns you about it. And it is, sad to say, all too true.

Personally, my favorite moment came when Julie announced, somewhat befuddled upon returning from our first trip to the grocery store, "We have a banana hanger. Can you believe that we actually own a banana hanger!?"

Considering that, just days before, we had been sitting in Wei Ziqi's rural, mountainside courtyard, this statement was an expression of culture shock of sorts. Considering that, just weeks before, we had shared an open air toilet with Mongolian cows, using a hanger to keep our bananas understandably seemed a bit excessive to Julie.

It sure does come in handy, though...

~Steve

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