It's been a week since we returned to the U.S. I wrote about first impressions through our bleary jet lag haze. Now that things have settled a bit, here's the latest.
Driving is officially terrifying.
Last night we went into Atlanta to have dinner with a friend and were driving 50 mph on the interstate. I could barely handle it. My brain keeps telling me we're going way too fast and everyone around us is going way too fast and we're seconds away from a fiery crash.
It's not like we didn't ride in cars or do equally terrifying things on our trip. We drove motorbikes over mountain passes and rode tuk tuks through insane traffic in Vietnam.
But for some reason (and I recognize that this could all just be my general anxiety manifesting itself as car anxiety), driving here seems death-defying.
In a similar vein, I feel really exposed in the car like I'm going to get pulled over at any second. We discovered one of our head lights was out and I was freaked out the entire 20 minute drive home waiting for those blue lights in our rear view mirror.
Then we couldn't find our most recent insurance card and I came apart worrying that we'd get in trouble driving without car insurance even though we have it and I could easily just print the most recent card from our online account.
So some things are creeping up.
I love/hate having a cell phone again. It's amazing to be able to look up directions wherever I am, but I'm already starting to panic whenever the alert goes off. I didn't hear my phone make a sound for the entire year, and now it sounds deafening.
I feel like I'm getting calls and texts constantly even though it's only like 4 a day. I get that distracted crazy feeling like I'm on the hook to respond to every little message people send me and it feels like SO MUCH PRESSURE.
How do we get anything done when we're checking our texts constantly?
I just want to put it in a drawer and forget about it. I think I'm going to have to sort out some boundaries with the phone.
Yesterday I said to Nate, "Maybe I'll just become one of those people that never responds to their texts and eventually everyone will stop trying to reach me."
I'm enjoying immensely the settled rhythm of home. Waking up, letting the dogs out, making coffee, cooking an egg. These are all incredibly satisfying after a year of living out of hostels and hotels.
Despite that fact, I'm still googling international flights for a trip that isn't real.
The other morning I combed through the search results for flights to Cuba. Travel can free you, but it can help you hide out too.
When I feel overwhelmed, it's tempting to think about all the places I could run off to. But the saying is true: "Wherever you go, there you are." Your problems don't magically disappear just because you've gone somewhere new.
Being here at my parents' house is a strange halfway place. I don't quite feel like I'm "home" yet even though I don't have a home and Denver won't feel like it for a long while anyway.
I do feel like I'm in the U.S., but it feels like a continuation of the trip. It's hard being back in your childhood home. In the little quiet moments when I'm alone I feel a nostalgia not just for the trip but for my whole childhood.
I'm reminded that time is passing. I'm growing up. We're all growing up.
In the coming weeks I'm going to keep telling myself that this is a lot of change. It's okay for it to feel overwhelming and scary. I will relax when driving. I will figure out how to deal with my cell phone so it doesn't give me a heart attack. I will adjust to this new life in a country I know so well. And it's all going to be fine.