Six Weeks at Home in Four Photos

expat issues, usa travels

On Thursday, I left the U.S. after a six week trip, and on Saturday morning, I arrived in Sydney. Friday was lost to time and space. Hushpuppy and I, dressed in winter clothes,  were welcomed by a blazing Australian summer and our sorely missed Partner-in-Crime.

It had been my first trip home in three years, so as expected, I faced a whole range of emotions from high to low.  All of the things I love and hate about both countries came into clear focus, leading to the never-ending “who am I and where do I belong?” existential acrobatics.

As I reflect, I think that I can sum up my thoughts in four photos.


cupSo so much … We went to Waffle House for breakfast. I over-indulged. My coffee cup was refilled every time it got below half full. Still, I thought I’d take an extra caffeine boost home with me because, why not? So I asked for a to-go cup of coffee. The waiter asked if I wanted the “small” or “large.” I said small.
“The large is the same price,” he tempted.
“Large,” I agreed.

This is the large. It is literally a coffee as big as my head. Why would anyone need a coffee this size? And why would a large be the same price as the small (which I doubt was honestly very “small” at all)? Because … More … This is the American way. You see it in everything. It’s unsettling after you’ve stepped away from the abundance for a long time.



The extra mile: Yes, there’s too much of everything, but next to the overflow is also an abundance of extra care and thought. Everywhere you look, you can see people and businesses working just a little harder and more thoughtfully to create an experience that is friendly, comfortable, and nice to look at. Take this awesome racecar shopping cart at Publix. Hushpuppy was beside herself with joy to do the shopping in this contraption, which in turn made life easier for me. Grocery shopping suddenly became a fun adventure. Not necessary, but one of those little things that exemplifies how pleasant and easy life in the U.S. can be.


Ideological differences: There were a few instances where my philisophical differences with American (Southern, in particular) culture smacked me squarely in the gut. Driving in town one day, I saw a car with this sticker on it (I wasn’t fast enough to snap my own photo, but it looked just like this). It is the perfect representation of the ideological differences I have with my homeland. Not only am I disgusted by the number of guns that Americans seem to feel it necessary to own, but then to want to flaunt it like this? This is the country that brought you Columbine. Aurora. Sandy Hook. When I was there, a two year old shot and killed his mother in a Wal Mart with her own concealed handgun. Do we really need to be so proud of our guns? Some will disagree with me, which is fine. This is one part of life about which the U.S. and I are never going to see eye to eye.



Family and dear friends: For all the things that make me uncomfortable about the U.S., it’s the place where my family and so many friends are, which is a perk without parallel. This photo of Hushpuppy was taken as she was holding her Grandma’s hand on the way to her uncle’s (my brother’s) wedding. On our trip, we got to experience Thanksgiving, the wedding, and Hushpuppy got spoiled by family at Christmas. I also spent some real quality time with friends from high school, college, and other parts of my life. I saw a show at my old University’s theatre department and caught up with some former professors. Her Uncle and new Auntie took us on a trip to the zoo. We spent an afternoon with her relatives from Partner-in-Crime’s side of the family, the first ones Hushpuppy has met. Hushpuppy played with some of my old toys and met the offspring of people I was once a lot younger with. When I look back, these are the pictures that I will always treasure about this trip. Everything else is on the periphery.

7 thoughts on “Six Weeks at Home in Four Photos

  1. Kimi Pichardo

    I whole-heartedly agree. I was wondering if you were adequately capable of summarizing a homecoming in 4 pics (how dare I to doubt your succinct genius), AND, if they would be pics I would choose and, yep… did it. I completely concur. Well done, chica! xoxo

  2. Samantha

    You got some adorable pics of hushpuppy! I’ve totally been thrown off by the size of things when returning home too. Lol. As to the family of guns – wow, just wow – I kinda just imagine them without any family at all… just cuddling a bunch of guns at night – pretty, weird & sad.

    1. Cristin Post author

      Ech, though that’s probably preferable to them having a bunch of kids cuddling guns. Oh, The South…

    1. Cristin Post author

      Thanks, Kelli! I love having expat friends who know exactly where I’m coming from (literally!).

  3. Cosette

    That’s lovely. I agree with you on all counts. I don’t understand the gun thing either. Why can’t Americans be that excited about other Constitutional rights?

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