Times I Was Confused in America

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I’ve been living in Europe, now, for the better part of sixteen years.  And yet, it was only this summer that I experienced the phenomenon of realizing I was more in tune with how things work in Germany, my second culture, than I was with how it’s done in America.

This wasn’t really the case before now.  I’m wondering what it was about this summer—I mean, I hadn’t been away from America for any longer than normal.  I’m not even immersed in German language or, let’s be honest, German society as much as I could/should be?

So, is sixteen years away from where I grew up my own personal magic expat number? Is this the specific amount of time it took me to feel more integrated into one culture than the other?

Example Number One of a Time I Was Super Confused in America

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Thirteen Flights: An Ode of Sorts

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I was going to write about my second visa “strike” this week, but that’s a very long story (with back stories, and back stories to the back stories, and back stories to the back stories to the back stories…) so honestly that might be a “Resettled in Germany” assignment.  Feeling as tired as I do, it’s hard to imagine finding the motivation.

Laken and I are entering the second half of a two-week visit to Buffalo, New York, where my family lives.   Since I’m on maternity leave for the year, it made sense for the two of us to take advantage of offseason prices.

Todd misses us, terribly, and looks a bit like Grumpy Cat when we see him on Face Time, but he gets why we’re here. And why we generally spend five to seven weeks here a year.  And why 99.9% of my salary goes directly in to the “Trips Home” pot.

See, when Todd and I first got married, one thing I gave him fair warning about is that I don’t just like to fly home a lot—I need to fly home a lot.  Truly, I’m that person who, if I didn’t live 4,000 miles away from my family, would probably own a house on the same block and stop over at all hours of the day to steal canned goods and, as my dad says, “shoot the baloney.” Living internationally is a very big stretch, even fifteen years in.  The only way I can hack it is with frequent trips home.

The need to make these trips home is a thousand times truer now that we have a baby.  It’s crucial to us both that she knows her cousins, her grandparents, and our close friends.

So, Laken—who is nine months old—is already a seasoned, passport-holding traveler with no less than thirteen flights under her baby belt.  (I’m counting the intermediate flights between Frankfurt and Buffalo, where my family lives, and on to Washington, where Todd’s family is. We also did a weekend trip to England over Thanksgiving.)

Since our baby has reached teenage status when it comes to traveling by plane, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share thirteen thoughts, experiences, or tips in honor of each flight we’ve survived thus far.

One: Plane Rides Are Just Zippy Marathons. Continue reading