When I go back to the US I usually write something about how it feels to be there after living here. I don’t think I have much to add to what I have said in the past. It’s still expensive, people won’t look at you when you pass them on the street, it is very orderly and manicured compared to here, and almost everyone is really tall. It’s easier in some ways. You know what store to go to for various things and they don’t use words you don’t understand. But for me, I’ve enjoyed a new language and new things so this isn’t something I need.
It is easy to get very busy even in retirement, so I enjoyed this downtime. We were busy in California helping out, running errands, and shopping, but in Seattle it was just me when everyone was at work (Joel went east to see other family). I walked to the supermarket a few times to pick up something for dinner, but otherwise I was in the house watching TV (where in spite of having a million channels, there is very little of substance), reading (better), pulling weeds in the yard (yard therapy), and I stripped the wallpaper in the bathrooms (by request of course, home improvement therapy). I ignored the internet and email, except correspondence from actual people who needed responses (and if I missed any of you my apologies), I ignored my blog and barely kept in touch with friends. I was supposed to meet some people in the area but it turned out they were in another city nearby and unable to come to me, so that didn’t work out. Maybe next time…
It is so easy to get caught up in life and forget the need for solitude and quiet time. I think this is why I have always been a night owl. That time late at night when everyone else is asleep, the phone doesn’t ring, and no one expects anything from you, I love that time and I still do. I’m not working but my days still tend to be quite full and my husband is almost always home when I am. We have worked out together time and separate activities in a way that works for us but when we are home we are still together. Maybe I have overextended myself since I am still feeling a need to back off. I’ve always been an extroverted and gregarious person. Am I changing in my old age? Or, maybe I’d rather nurture a few close friendships instead of a multitude of casual relationships?
I do have some good friends and thanks to WhatsApp, we kept in touch even when I was far away. There is a guy who comes every week with fruits and vegetables. He knows me now and always picks out the best broccoli and cauliflower and hides it under the seat just for me. Where else would you get messages from your veggie guy asking how things are in the US and sending greetings to the family? My neighbor kept the birdbath clean, put out trash, and unplugged everything in the house. Even the Indian guy who works in the neighborhood said he missed me and was happy to see me back.
But, I am going to try to take better care of myself and say no when people want time and attention I don’t feel I can give. My career was taking care of people so that is my default mode, but it eventually wrung me dry. I still have to be mindful of taking care of myself now. I don’t have to be available all the time and I don’t have to take care of everyone. Maybe all that quiet time in the US was just what I needed to remind me of this.