Monday, July 7, 2008


When I opened Blogger to write this post, I didn't have to change the language because it came up in Vietnamese.

This afternoon I filled my water bottle straight from the faucet in our kitchen.

I just talked to my sister on my cell phone.

In the shower this morning, the water ran clear, instead of the usual brown.

During a purchase yesterday, the woman smiled at me and spoke English.

Somethings about being home just continue to amaze me.

As my mom and my sister can attest, going to the grocery store last week was quite an experience. Well, I still call it the "market" but they said, "The what?" We ventured off to King Soopers and I insisted we go up and down every, single aisle. It was immediately overwhelming, as most things are right now. It was so organized and clean and indoors and the smell didn't make me want to vomit! Wow.

We started in the produce section. They have everything! Pineapples, apples, grapes, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, any berries! Green beans, corn, beets, spinach, oh my! Sure produce is produce, but the packaged foods and convenience items are the most shocking. As we started in the salad section, I just kept thinking, "We are so lazy!" Pre-made salads, pre-cut carrots with little containers of ranch dressing, lemongrass in a convenient little tube, tofu, lettuce pre-washed and in handy little bags. Can we do anything by ourselves? I think our ancestors would be disappointed. Think of great-grand papa caveman. How many of us have even planted a seed and nurtured its growth? I haven't really since 4th grade and it came out of a styrofoam cup for science class.

We meandered past cheese, the deli, and get this, the meat comes in nice little packages already cut for you! Oh canned goods galore! Seems we are not satisfied with the already innumberable choices available here in the States, so we import the things we 'think' we need. Imported food sells too! Are we so discontent?

The frozen foods section may have been the biggest shock of all. This is the convenience hall of fame: appetizers, pre-made meals including desert, waffles, burritos, stir-fry's, veggies. We just defrost and eat it. You could have a pretty impressive dinner in about 6.5 minutes. None of the ice cream listed palm oil as the first ingredient. Yuck!

As we went, we ran into a few people we knew. I just sorta conversated with my eyes wide open, continuing to wander from side to side. There is just so much stuff!

The cereal aisle was fun because all I've been eating is corn flakes. All the others were imported at sometimes $12 a box. I didn't actually get any becuase I was overloaded by choices and couldn't actually pick one. I just gave up.

As we reached the last few aisles, my mom said, "Can we check out?" I looked her and said, "We haven't looked at every aisle yet!" My sister joked that I may want to scan the dog food aisle too. I rolled my eyes and continued. Who knows what other crazy stuff may await me on the coming aisles? I sauntered on as my mom and sister just followed, laughing.

The beverage aisle was last and indeed, not that exciting. If I wanted alcohol in Cambodia that would've been my chance to get it becuase there is no drinking age. It was just as un-tempting as it always has been.

We made our way to the front. And believe it or not the cart was far from overflowing. I made sure to get some instant macaroni and cheese, some toothpaste, and of course, salsa. We checked out at the counter, past the magazines seeming to only be advertising sex as far as I could tell. How many celebrity bodies in swimstuits can they possibly criticize before they realize, we all have cellulite! My sister and I sadly observed a blown up picture of skinny Eva Longoria, who must've just eaten a salad before the picture was taken, becuase it shouted, "Pregnant Longoria?" Oh give the girl a break. They must think most of us are pregnant based on the standards for looking "with child"!

Because of the new and continuing green movement, we put everything in our canvas bags and it may have the been the first 'feel good' event of the evening. The whole experience was far from miserable, just a lot to take in.

You may be thinking, "She was only gone a year!" or "Was this girl born yesterday?" Ya know, in many ways, it does feel that way. In some ways coming home comes with little adjustment. I still know where the trash can is at our house and how to work the DVD player better than my mom. But I suppose it's those bigger things about returning home that will continue to be an adjustment for awhile.

Have patience with me. Assume it's all weird becuase it probably is. My mom and I went shopping for some basics yesterday: underwear, tennis shoes, and Tylenol. We ventured to Target, Walmart and the like. I already started browsing the aisles a little more quickly and reminding myself this is how I used to live and will for awhile. I reminded myself that I should not feel guilty for this overabundance, I should be changed. Living in constant surplus may not kill me. And let's be honest, it is nice to have absolute everything you could ever need. But it is in that overabundance that I remember not everyone lives this way.

Not Kagna.
Not Pen David.
Not Tulip.
Not Leeta.
Not Le Chay.
Not JC.

I could go. Instead, I'll just remember and live accordingly.


Carissa J said...

I don't think you're silly at all for feeling this way. When I was an SM, I was only gone for four months and I was in Europe and had everything I could ever need and mostly want. But still, when I came back to the US I was in shock of how big things are here, the stores, the roads. And how much STUFF there is in the stores and in everyone's homes. It's ridiculous how used to the overabundance we are here in the US.