Rather shakily, I realize that we’ve been home for well over a month! It’s certainly been a blur, and feels a bit like coming back to the office after a prolonged and un-compensated absence.
In one month, we’ve filled up an exhausting schedule. First off, we battled West to East jet-lag for at least a week (much worse than flying west). During this week, we traveled 3 hours to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. My mother-in-law would wake at 2am to the clink of spoons on cereal bowls – we were up and ready to go!
Although I have traveled in Asia before, the “reverse culture shock” still got me. The wide, sterile, empty roads of our neighborhood. The outrageous consumption. Snow in April. If not white, brown. The isolating impact of a cold and car-driven city. Unhappy, tired, unfriendly faces. Alligator skin (mine). Obesity. Frenetic business. Sarcasm and bullying amongst young kids as normal interaction.
I can’t believe that the fax I just sent would have bought a lovely restaurant dinner in Bali, or paid somebody’s wages for a couple of days. I hate filling up the mini-van, realizing how much I consume here, and that one fill-up would pay a Balinese salary for a month. (Don’t worry, I’m trying to remember the positives of our culture as well, such as “universal” quality health-care). But, if I felt that I lived in Consumer Central before, now I know that I do.
The busy-ness has also quickly dug in it’s tenacious claws: In the space of one month,
1) I start a new part-time teaching job and additional locum work. Because my new schedule doesn’t leave quite enough time (or energy) for homeschooling, I plan to hire an education student to come in the mornings.
2) Dan, ever frugal, decides that he instead will home-school.
3) Dan still runs his company. After 2 weeks of this,
4) Kids start at a new public school. New supplies, routines, bus schedules.
5) Dan, ever frugal, decides to repair broken Subaru motor, himself. It has cracked valves.
5) Dan and kids (while homeschooling) plan a huge birthday BBQ party at our house, to which they invite well over 50 people (thank goodness the sun shone).
6) Kids activities resume: soccer season (Dan coaching Vivi’s team), along with the return to Aikido, piano, violin lessons, and play-dates.
7) Miscellaneous re-entry items such as haircuts, dental and doctor appointments.
8) Unhappy return to housekeeping: shopping and cooking 3x/day, 7days/week for a family of 4 that acts and eats like 10. Cleaning and endless laundry piles.
Yes, we should have stayed in Bali longer. But, there are moments that I am affirmed that our trip was not just escapism. For instance, at the mall, my 6-year old girl exclaiming, “Mom, you don’t need to buy me sandals and a bathing-suit! That’s too much and you’ll spoil me”. Or, nightly, the kids praying for the Japanese people hurt by the earthquake and tsunami.
Or Théo reminding his sister how much they have compared to the majority of kids in the world, and how stuff doesn’t necessarily make people happy.