EASE OF COMING BACK

We’ve been home for about a month now, although it feels like it’s been much longer. And not in the dreadful sense of something that feels like it’s been forever because of how draining it has been. 

I have to say that coming back to the US and slipping back into my “old” life has been unexpectedly easy.

Everyone I know who has moved back to their home countries after an expat stint has told me how hard it is. How they feel completely out of sorts. That starting over in your own country is much more complicated than starting over in a totally unfamiliar one. And I genuinely believe them.

Knowing that, I was totally prepared to feel shattered and lost. Depressed and confused. 

But truthfully, I haven’t felt any of that.

I really feel like I’ve just slipped on an old pair of shoes and slid back into life in the US. Maybe part of that ease is because I know it’s temporary. Perhaps because it’s only been 6-weeks. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because this is precisely where I need to be right now. 

Maybe it would be different if we had to find a home and jobs and start over again. 

Being back here has really been the antidote I needed. There are some things I love about the US and some things, not so much. And you, my friends, get to read all my raves and rants.

MY RAVES

girl standing on a tree lined street on a foggy day holding the American flag

THE EASE 

Life is pretty easy here. Everything seems convenient, and one-stop-shops make errands a breeze. 

Grocery stores that have everything we need and more make shopping a pleasure instead of a chore. No, we don’t have an aisle of soy sauces, but we do have an aisle of salad dressings, and that makes me much happier than soy sauce ever has.

There is so much at our fingertips. The ease of getting everything quickly is almost addictive. Being here actually makes me want to shop. 

In fact, living in the US makes me want to spend money. It’s a total mind-f#$k because nothing is affordable. Really. Nothing. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

IT’S SUPER-EFFICIENT

I never realized how the American way of life is so efficient until living in Malaysia.  

For example, we got in on Monday night. Then, Tuesday, we hit the ground running. We went to a suburban DMV to renew our expired driver’s licenses and were completely surprised at how quickly we were sorted. 

In less than 45 minutes, we were in and out with temporary licenses in hand. In 10 days, we had our new licenses. All done.

It was amazing. 

We also got the internet and phones sorted, a new computer (mine crashed), and our soon-to-be expired passports handled within a few hours. 

Even though the US government said it would be about 12 weeks to get our new passports, it took less than six. The last agency we expected to be efficient was the US government. I mean, it couldn’t run a Nevada whorehouse with an existing clientele and ladies waiting in lingerie. But our passports? Done and done.    

In Penang, it would be impossible to get all of that done. Or even half of that done. Sometimes, it takes half a day to get our groceries. 

But here, things were just snapping into place. 

CUSTOMER SERVICE 

Not only is customer service alive and well here, but it’s also extraordinary. 

Of course, we pay for it at every restaurant and bar in the way of tips. 

However, it’s refreshing to know that if I asked for a martini with 3.75 ounces of vodka, 2.3 drops of vermouth, ¼ of an ice cube made by trolls in Iceland, I could get it. 

And if I didn’t like it, I could send it back and get something else.  

MY RANTS

hand holding US dollar bills and burning them

In August of 2020, I wrote 8 Things I Hate About America (as an American). Funnily enough, I’m adding to that list even though I couldn’t be happier to be home. So here goes…

THE DOLLAR AMOUNT

I recognize that I’ve been Penang-ed—a term Mark and I coined when we first came back to the US and almost had apoplexy at how expensive everything was. Since everything is so affordable in Malaysia, it’s hard not to compare. We are surprisingly cheap now, and the US isn’t an easy place to be cheap! 

From US$7 per hour for parking to US$16 cocktails, it seems like everything is outrageous. And when we convert it to ringgit, it’s painful. 

Thankfully we’ve been cooking a lot, but it’s hard to go out for a meal and spend less than US$20 per person, and that’s without drinks. So yesterday we went and bought stuff to make a salad, it cost us US$30! We could buy a week’s worth of groceries in Penang for that kind of money.

Mark called me horrified when he popped into our local taco joint and spent US$20 for a friggin burrito! And it’s not one of those big-as-your-head burritos that could feed a Malaysian family of four. Just a regular ol burrito with a side of greasy chips.

I could go on and on with examples of what feels like a severe yet constant case of highway robbery, but it’ll just make me nauseous. 

So in that way, it’s been hard to adjust. 

THE COMMERCIALS 

I know this is super inconsequential, but it’s really noticeable after being away for so long. 

There are two types of commercials here:

1. Get the vaccine, you a**hole 

2.  Take these meds and hope you don’t bleed out

Let me explain…

THE (UN)VACCINATED COMMERCIALS

The vaccine commercials are full-on peer pressure and guilt about getting vaccinated. 

A sob story from the doctors who are begging you to get it. Guilting you into it and making you feel like a horrible person for not getting it. We all know how politicized the vaccine has become, and to see guilt-ridden commercials every 12 minutes about the unvaccinated is really trying. 

I’m pro-choice for everyone and everything. My version of being pro-choice means we all get to choose what we do to and with our own bodies. 

I’m cool with the vaccinated. I’m cool with the unvaccinated. You do you and leave everyone else alone. And FFS, stop the coercion commercials about it.

THE SIDE-EFFECT COMMERCIALS

The second kind of commercial is about medicine and its possible side effects. So, it might stop your heartburn but leave you with anal leakage (no joke). Or it might prevent your hair from falling out but could also cause a lifetime of diarrhea. Oh, the decisions.

And my personal fave is the pill that’ll stop your depression and anxiety, but in severe cases has been known to cause severe depression. I’m being serious. There really is a pill for depression that could cause depression. WTF.

I know they have to mention the side effects, so if someone’s butt starts leaking, they’ve covered their own against lawsuits. I get it. But couldn’t they save that for the fine print, or better yet, for their doctor? Just sayin.

I’ve never wanted to see a BudLight commercial more than I do these days. Something frivolous and tastes like dirty water is far better than what we are getting to see now. 

SO, WHAT’S NEXT FOR US?

girl standing my jeep at sunset

Next week Mark is driving to Connecticut to see his side of the family. I’ll fly out to meet him in early November. I’m absolutely not ready to leave my mom yet and don’t know when or if I will be. So, I’m just taking it one day at a time and enjoying my momma time now. We have a lot of decisions ahead of us, and rushing them won’t do us any good, so I’m doing my best to go with the flow. Although feeling untethered is not easy for us, in some ways, it excites me. And for now, it’s about all I can handle.

Until next time,