Things in Chile were harder, but harder became my normal. I was always in a state of anxiety - at least a little. When I left my house, I knew I would encounter spanish. I got to the point that I could wade my way through my normal tasks if everything went according to plan. Inevitably, something always went awry. I started to learn to roll with it. It got easier. BUT even with 'easier' there was a constant base of anxiety. When the phone rang, when the yard guys came, when we went to church functions.
The best way to describe it is a low hum of uneasiness. Always.
Even though I loved Chile, I was looking forward to getting back into the US and the normalcy. Looking forward to losing that hum.
Then we got here.
Being home is overwhelming in so many ways.
I expected to be overwhelmed with the house. I knew I would want to get through every single room and purge 80% of our belongings (living oversees really helps you prioritize your "stuff"). Surprisingly, the methodical tasks of sorting have been peaceful. Exhausting, but therapeutic.
It's all the other "stuff" that is overwhelming.
I don't want to leave my house. Not just yet. I'm not quite ready to take on this english-filled world.
The english is fine - in small doses.
When I am out and about, the amount of words that my brain understands is overwhelming. I went through the past year hearing sound around me, not words. Initially, it was overwhelming in and of itself, but eventually, that commotion was just noise. My brain learned to tune it out. Kind of like you normally do in the US. You walk through the store, and while there are people all around you speaking english, you don't try and make out every conversation. Upon returning to the states, I found my brain is constantly picking up on conversations and words all over the place. It's overwhelming.
I also feel a little out of place.
I sat in church Sunday and felt like I was looking in to a fish bowl.
Everyone was the same. They sat in the same places, wore the same clothes, said the same things. It was all the same. Which should be comforting - but I feel so much different. SO much has happened. SO much has changed within me. This isn't my world anymore.
I felt out of place. Awkward. My brain is telling me I belong here, but it doesn't feel like I do. I just wanted to go home. Chile home.
I don't really want to go back to Chile and live forever. I loved it there. I made some amazing friends. It changed my life in a way that nothing else could.
I will miss it.
I will miss the people. I will miss the constant learning and experiencing new things. I will miss the challenge.
I will miss our home overlooking the mountains. I will miss driving like I belong on the Indy 500.
I will miss it all.
After talking with a dear friend, who has done this more than once, I am assured that I will fit back in. I just have to give it some time and go at my own pace.
I am eternally grateful for all that Chile taught me. For every single experience that it gave to my family.
We have grown. Our minds have been opened to new experiences and new people. We have a better understanding of our world. We are closer as a family unit.
We experienced first hand how the gospel blesses our lives and the lives of others in a very real way. We met people who have very few physical possessions yet are full of joy and grace, willing to share and give of what they have.
Chile changed us. I think for the better.
But now it's time to find our way here. To remember those lessons we learned. To follow those examples of humility and grace. To be better people because of our experiences. We have Chile to thank for that.
Transitioning OUT of Chile went off without a hitch.
The check-out process with the property manager went smoother than expected. I had everything in the exact cabinet that was specified, grouped together, so that when she went through her checklist, it would be quick and efficient. I had broken a bowl and 2 cups, but she didn't act like that was a big deal and finished in 1 hour (she had planned 2).
We were packed completely by noon so at 1:00, Andrew and I went to our favorite sushi place, one last time, to get some takeout for lunch. The wait was long, but they brought us yummy Miso soup while we waited. It was perfect for the crisp, cold day. He and I were able to have a really good heart-to-heart about the exciting things that lay in store for him over the next few years. I enjoyed it.
We took the dog on a few laps around the cul-de-sac to get his little legs tired before his long journey in a doggie carrier under our seats.
Our rides arrived and we filled 2 trucks with our 18 checked bags and 8 carryon. When we got to the airport, it took 3 baggage handlers to help us get checked in. Luckily, Greg and I are Priority members and we could skip the long lines. It took us about 30 minutes (and several thousands of dollars) to check in and we walked right up to the counter.
10 large camping duffle bags
1 snowboarding bag
1 ski bag
1 desktop computer
1 DJ mix board
Our carryon consisted of:
1. Alex's guitar
2. A large "purse" that held my huge ceramic bowl, laptop, iPad and carryon needs
3. A small suitcase full of XBox and PS3 plus their accessories
4. Greg's briefcase, including his laptop
5. An additional small suitcase with all my ceramic dishes (salsa bowl, red handmade bowls, etc)
6. A duffle bag for the kids' handheld electronics
7. A camera backpack
8. The dog in his bag
We were loaded down like pack horses.
Our biggest fear was the transition through customs when we first arrive into the US. You have to unload all your bags from the luggage carousel and then haul them to the next baggage drop off. We would also need to get the dog approved by customs while hauling all this crap. All in a span of 2 hours.
We had one airport baggage handler and his gigantic cart filled to the top with our duffle bags and suitcases. We had 2 carts loaded down with suitcases, boxes and carryon bags. We trucked through the airport in one oversized train. When we got to the area where they checked the dog, all they wanted to see was our paperwork and then just needed to "check to see that he's alive". Really? Who brings a dead dog? Whatever. Around more corners and through additional narrow halls (trying not to lose any bags off our carts), and we finally were able to unload everything at the baggage drop area.
Things went so smoothly and we had plenty of time to change into summer clothes, brush our teeth and get some Cheetos before boarding our next flight. Greg took Scooter to the dog park at the airport and they were flagged by security on their way back in so it took them longer than intended, but we were still well within our 2 hour layover. Whew!
We arrived to Phoenix and all, but one, of our bags came out of the baggage carousel first. We counted and recounted - pulled out our luggage tags and counted again. Sure enough, we were short one suitcase. We waited and waited, and it finally came sliding down the conveyer belt. Yes! We made it all 25 bags, 1 dog, and 2 kids. We were home.
We had 3 minivans arrive to take us home. It was nice to see friendly faces after that long trip. So good to see old friends.
Our excitement was building as we drove the 15 minutes to our "new" old house. We had so much remodeling done following the water damage, that we were anxious to see all the changes. I was a little stressed (ok a lot stressed) about the mess we would be walking into with all of our crap. My mom nailed it when she said, "It's like you're moving into a new house where the previous family left all their stuff." EXACTLY! It had been stressing me out for weeks.
Much to my mental and emotional relief, I walked into MY house. It was clean and orderly. Things were in their place save a few boxes neatly lining the walls. It was CLEAN! You have no idea what that felt like. It was such a huge relief. It made it feel like we were home.
We walked through the house and were in awe with all the changes. Thank goodness for an amazing contractor. Remodeling a house from oversees is a little stressful. We had to take an attitude of 'it is what it is' and hope for the best. This turned out so much better than I even imagined. It is perfect!
Within minutes of us enjoying the peace and beauty in our "new" old home, all the luggage was hauled out of cars. Furniture was moved so that the bags could be sprawled out in the living room. Now it was crazy - but so very much LESS crazy than I envisioned.
We enjoyed a take out lunch of In-and-Out Burger with friends at our house before heading out in search of new appliances.
We spent the afternoon shopping for a new washer/dryer, refrigerator, mattress (for Andrew), dishwasher and TV.
The only MUST have was the washer/dryer. They were ruined in the flood, but with all the unbelievable 4th of July appliance sales, and the ability we had to get the contractor discount with the number of items being purchased, we decided to go ahead and get everything.
Everything was supposed to be delivered and installed on Friday - except the fridge which is currently on backorder.
Friday arrives and the only thing delivered was the washer/dryer and mattress.
Apparently, the TV install guy (who was also going to install our DirectTV) didn't make it in to work that day - can you say "4th of July hangover?".
So no TV. They wanted to still deliver it, but after 2 rescheduled times of delivery, we told them to just wait until Monday when they would come and install. We were tired of waiting around.
The new washer/dryer is stacked and looks great - BUT the dryer has a soft thumping sound each time the drum rotates. So they are sending out a repair guy. I'm not happy. I did not pay for a refurbished dryer - I paid for a new one. If they have to fix it before I can even really use it, then I think that they should give me a fat discount. More to come about that drama.
The other item to actually arrive Friday was the mattress. Friday I spent the day sorting down the kids' rooms, and stuff was strung out all through the hallway - so we just had them leave the mattress/box springs in the hall downstairs. It's easy enough to get a twin bed moved ourselves.
When we finally went to put them on the new bed frame, we realized that they had given us a normal twin mattress and an XL twin box spring. Annoying.
We called and they told us they'd bring out one to exchange Monday.
We found out that the dishwasher is apparently now on backorder as well. So we're waiting for it and the fridge. That isn't such a huge deal. The others work. I just don't want to do any major grocery shopping until after we get the new fridge. As of now, we continue to eat out or make quick fix meals. It's fine. I'm too mentally tired to make real food anyway.
Today (Monday) the TV and the install guys should come between 4:00pm and 8:00pm. Greg will have them install not only the TV on the wall, but his surround sound and outdoor speakers. All of my boys (and their friends) are on pins and needles waiting for that TV. I think a new TV is awesome, but I really want to get my new fridge. Priorities :)
We did get the new closet installed in our Master Bedroom over the weekend. We bought the Ethan Allen system from Lowe's and Greg and I did it ourselves. It was very simple. The hardest part is determining the layout. We are impressed with how sturdy and solid it all seems.
Today I am washing and hanging clothes. Finally, Greg and I can get out of duffle bags.
Little things that make it seem more like home. Next up is the kitchen - but as you can see, I'm stalling - just a little...
Went to get a mani/pedi and was reminded about another little peculiar thing here in Chile. They use a Dremel on your feet. Yep. One of these:
No, it's not a Dremel brand speciality tool designed for your feet. It's an actual Dremel. The kind you use for Pinewood Derby cars. As you can see pictured above, there are several "bits" to choose from.
My first experience with this torture machine was in October when I went to a German hair salon to get my hair cut/colored and innocently decided to get my nails done while I waited...
That German lady used the bit labeled as "C" above. It was HORRIFIC! It hurt! It felt like - like - like someone was freakin' using a DREMEL ON MY FOOT!
Since then, I've gone to this little shop down the street from my house. They don't use a Dremel. I thought maybe it was just a crazy German thing.
Went to new place last week and they used a Dremel too! This was much less painful however, because she used the "H" bit and kept my foot damp. Whenever it started to feel like my foot was about to catch on fire, she'd spray it down with water and go again.
From the sounds of things, you'd think I have Flinstone like calluses on my feet. Let me assure you - I do not. Apparently, this is completely common. Everyone gets "Dremeled".