Faith in humanity

I have been back in the United States of America for close to two months now and it is beginning to feel normal. I mean, the adjustment to owning a car and taking care of my own problems without another adult helping me speak feels commonplace again.

I look back on the day that I left Turkey in July with all my most valued possessions tucked into four very large suitcases that I was managing (some what unsuccessfully) on my own and thinking about how as soon as I got into my native land no one was going to be nice to me anymore. My sweet boyfriend said to me in a voice filled with endearing consolation and compassion as he helped me pick up the suitcase that toppled forward for the 8th time, "Don't worry, people will help you get your bags to your car when you arrive at your final destination." I considered this notion for a brief moment before I repositioned the bag carefully and replied in a dejected tone,  "I'm afraid that is wrong of you to assume."

And it was an incorrect assumption. When I arrived at the Detroit Metro Airport after close to 24 hours of travel and endless security checks, I noticed all of the people noticing me: the haggard 30 something year old woman pulling her dead-weight-mismatched-over-sized luggage off the conveyor belt...and sweating it. I noticed them watch me as I dragged the cart with the backwards wheel over to my area so I could pile my bags upon it to get them outside. I noticed them avert their eyes as I struggled to haul and lift those monstrosities on top of each other all by myself. I couldn't help but think that if I were anywhere outside the US I would have had oodles of people offering up their assistance.

So annoying. 

The entire experience made me feel sorry for myself for ending up back in a place in which I was not quite ready to return.


Aren't you glad there was a but? This is not a sob story, dear readers. Although I do love toiling in my own misfortune from time to time, I am not here to write about the negative. Number 1, ain't nobody want to read about that. Number 2, my life is pretty awesome and I am an extremely fortunate individual so I don't actually have a negative story to tell.

Here is the thing. Doing something difficult is...difficult. It feels way better when someone holds your hand through the process and puts you at ease. However sometimes it is good to struggle because then you can figure out how much gumption you actually have.

This applies to much more than lifting heavy things of course. But check it out:

what uppppppp! I pulled all that out on my own - just under 300 lbs of things when it was all said and done. I felt like a magnificent beast. Thanks for not helping me fellow citizens of Detroit. I understand that you probably thought I was a terrorist. 
So back to my original point: Re-acclimating to the United States of America - it has been OK! Better than OK, really! I'm not gonna lie, the frequent usage of Trump signs in people's front yards was pretty NOT OK. I wanted to take pictures of them because it was fantastically bewildering to me - it was like a field of artificially planted racism fertilized with ignorance. I couldn't avert my eyes from them for a solid week. It was like a terrifying massacre of common sense. It was much scarier than seeing ghosts. But eventually I pushed my gaze past that blemish on the American landscape and started noticing other things, some of them being quite delightful. Like the mini van driven by the large Caucasian gentleman in his 70s that had a bumper sticker that read, "Michigangster." That was cool.

And this:


When I started to realize that the world around me was still hilarious, even in my tiny little corner of Midwest suburbia, I began to feel like myself again. Feeling like myself again was great because I got bogged down in the petty little hateful stuff for a minute and I really didn't like that much at all.

Shortly after I had the revelation that I could be happy here, I had another epiphany. Well actually, I decided to run an experiment on myself. I haven't really talked about it out loud, I've mostly just had conversations in my head about this topic, but here is what I decided: I was going to pretend I was on vacation. 

Now don't get me wrong, I knew I had to get a job (check, I am gainfully employed if you were wondering) and act like an adult a little bit. But aside from that, everything else was fair game. What did I have to lose? Being on vacation makes me happy. If I am happy, people around me are happier. Everyone wins. 

So it began. I got into my vacation mindset. What is my vacation mindset you ask? It is pretty basic and I give credit to my friend Maria who helped me define it many years ago during our treks across the world. Three rules:

1) Try all the food
2) Follow the music
3) Say yes to every invitation

It's funny to think that if I had just applied these rules to my everyday life long ago, my daily levels of joy could have increased tremendously.

You live, you learn.

Many things have changed for me since I decided to live my life as if I were on perma-vacation. Nothing insane. Little things though, the types of occurrences that are sometimes so darn small that you might miss them. 

For starters, I noticed that people talk to me all the time. Not just good mornings and hellos. I mean, people start full on conversations with me everywhere I go. Like, "Hey, you look a bit tired. Did you have trouble sleeping? Maybe you should get a coffee. There is a Starbucks around the corner. Do you know how to get there?" at Kroger. Or, "Hi! What are you reading? Are you from town? Are you a student? Are you comfortable in that chair? Do you like when the sun shines in on you from the window like that?" at a coffee shop. Or, "I love your tree necklace! Where did you get it? I have to show you something!" from nearly every child I pass everyday. It's not even a big charm, how do they all notice it?

I'll admit, I was taken aback by all this chattiness upon arrival to the States. Frankly, I was so used to tuning out my surroundings in Turkey for so many years that when I got here I didn't even realize that people were talking to me. I was constantly looking around to see who the strangers were addressing and then giving startled responses when I recognized that they were in fact talking directly to me. But now I like it. I like the human connection. I never would have considered connecting with the stranger in line at the DMV about the tornado warning from last night that kept him in his flooded basement for four and a half hours. Never. I truly enjoy relaxing with my thoughts all by myself. But since these interactions keep insisting upon happening, I feel my heart beginning to warm to them.

Another thing I have noticed is that my patience has been steadily increasing. Waiting on hold, standing in lines, attempting to figure out what the hell my nephew is trying to explain to me, etc. I've got time! When you are on vacation, you don't really need to get anything done in too much of a hurry. So I have begun to let things run their course. Then, when I am finally to the point of interaction from my end, I'm not so flustered.

Take buying my car for example. I knew I was going to get what I paid for, which wasn't much. I did some research and then went to a dealership to buy a used car. It's not great. It's a hoopty. But I had all of the history reports on damage and maintenance and so I knew what I was getting myself into which was fine by me. Well, sure enough, on the drive home the old girl starts making noises that were not... comforting. Long story short she had some big problems - which sent me into a full blown panic attack because I had just signed to buy the car "as is."

I knew that I had two options  - pay for the things to be fixed on my own (sadness) or call the dealership and plead my case (stress). Normal me would have begrudgingly paid for it to be fixed because I couldn't be bothered with hashing things out with the dealership - and then I would have penny pinched everything for the next 6 months to make up for the lost money. But vacation me took a deep breath and made the first stressful call with a full dose of sweetness. I talked to four different people over the next few days, each many, MANY times. But in the end they fixed everything for free and gave me a loaner to drive around in the meantime. They were so nice.

I LITERALLY couldn't believe it. Since when are people so darn nice??!

I imagine I felt like the double rainbow guy did.

While visiting Asheville, things were even more ridiculous. I mean people were off the hook nice. At one point I was trying to parallel park my rental car (have I mentioned I am a pretty bad driver?) and it wasn't going well. I had pulled into a spot because it looked really big. But then I thought maybe I wasn't straight enough. So I pulled out and tried it again. It still didn't feel right. Meanwhile there was a group of gentlemen sitting nearby watching me and a full stream of traffic cruising steadily by my vehicle. I began to sweat nervously and considered driving away because I felt like an asshole. However, I decided I should give it one more shot because really, what do I care? I don't live in Asheville anymore and those guys don't care about me either. They probably weren't even really watching me, right? I gave it one more shot and lo and behold, I nailed it. Third time truly is a charm.

I began to collect my belongings from the passenger seat when I noticed one of the gentlemen whom I thought had been watching me approach my car. He motioned for me to roll down my window and then proceeded to tell me that I could leave my car as it was if I wanted to but that I might get a ticket since I was entirely on the sidewalk. I looked at him and said, "Really? I thought I had it this time. You watched all of that didn't you? I'm so embarrassed." He very sweetly replied that it was a tricky spot because it was on a curve and the sidewalk was flat. And then. Then! He offered to re-park my car.

I was flabbergasted. It was nice enough of him to present my shortcomings in such a kind and nonthreatening way but then to extend this random act of kindness? As the shock rolled over my face he added, "I'm not going to steal your car. I promise. You just look like you might need some help."

So I got out, handed him my keys, and let his friends tease me a bit while he perfectly executed the parking job like a master of a trade.

After he handed me back my keys and we all gave each other genuine farewells, I realized that I needed to add one more rule on my vacation mindset list:

4) Trust.

Not everyone out there in this world is good. But I honestly think that most people are. If I listen to my intuition, things always work out.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to learn these things through trial and error, with a lot of time left over to experience how great the world can be.

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping your day to read my thoughts!