Once again I’m struck by the absurdity that is my life. Never in a million years had I imagined that would be a sentence I’d state, let alone have it be true.
I’ve been back in the US for seven months and while much of my life has returned to “normal”, there are still moments when I realize how profoundly I’ve changed. Sure, I watch less TV, I appreciate my friends and loved ones more than I did, and I continue to be amazed at some of what I’ve seen called “first world problems” (for example, people complaining on Facebook that the line in Starbucks is moving SO SLOW!!!), but there are other things that still catch me off guard.
Last weekend I went out with my aunt and cousin, and at the end of the night there was a mix-up about where I was meeting my cousin before we walked home. He went out a back entrance while I thought he’d be out front, and it took about ten minutes for us to find each other. (This is a really small town so that is extra ridiculous.)
When I finally saw him come to the front door, I ran outside and asked where he’d been. He explained he was out back and figured by that point I’d already headed back to my aunt’s. He even said he was about to leave himself if he didn’t see me just then.
Okay, not a big deal… except it never occurred to me to go outside and look for him. I peered through the glass in the front door and checked through the windows, but I stayed inside. Where it’s safe. Where people with guns and god-knows what else aren’t lurking.
Again, this is a small town. Ridiculous. But I realized that night that I still don’t go outside by myself after dark. For three years I never once set foot beyond my condo by myself after dark and apparently that habit is more deeply ingrained than I realized. I was even a little freaked out driving to work earlier this week before the sun rose. Now I know why.
In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a horrible thing, but I can’t help but wonder how long these effects will linger.