|The Colorado Sky|
It's a simple pleasantry but I don't have a simple answer.
I've started saying The West.
That answer doesn't get the simple oh okay response.
What do you mean you're from The West?
Well, I've lived in most of the western states but I can't claim one as home.
A close friend said she thought I'm from California. Well, the Army happened to send use there for four years and I have five other years I can add on to that. Nine years out of 36. Does that make California home? My parents live there and we go back at least once a year. Now is it home?
But I've lived in Europe for seven years. One school year in Spain, and three different Army posts in Germany. Am I almost as European as I am Californian?
When we returned to the States for Christmas there were some things that bothered me. Things are changing or maybe it's just me.
The mall may as well be the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Vendors constantly harass you as you walk through. No, I do not want my hair put in ringlets. No, I don't want to try your hand lotion. No, I don't want a spritz of your perfume. No, I don't want a sample of your food. No, no, no! If I wanted something I would approach you. So I use my Grand Bazaar strategies. I don't make eye contact. I don't look in their direction. I walk quickly. Kenny went so far as to tell a vendor in the airport (maybe Philadelphia) that he's an American. I'm sure the guy was bewildered and didn't at all understand that we just didn't want to be harassed. It's becoming normal in America.
After I navigated my way through the pushy vendors I then had to deal with pushy salespeople. Yes I'll take the jeans, but no I don't need a top or a belt to go with them. If I wanted those things I would have been shopping for them on my own.
Then there's the parking lot. The vehicles are huge! Why do we need such large vehicles? In Sacramento our airplane taxied by the parking lot. Just about every vehicle was a pickup or an SUV.
At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy duddy, the fashion is tasteless. Leggings are not pants. You are not classy because you threw on a pair of UGGs and a designer bag with your leggings. Unless you're at the gym, cover your bottom.
People are on the phone all of the time. Kenny says I have an iPhone addiction. It's probably true. I like to respond promptly to texts and Facebook comments, but I don't talk constantly. After eavesdropping quite a bit in the airport I decided that most people's conversations are pointless. They're not even really saying anything.
People look hard and tough. Kenny said he could take me to some neighborhoods in Europe where I would feel uncomfortable but for the most part I feel pretty safe walking around. It was intimidating walking around San Francisco. Hoodies and tattoos and piercings became armor. I walked a little faster and wondered if I needed something to make me look tough too.
As strange as it felt in America, I don't feel at home in Europe either.
I don't think I could call a place home if I don't speak the language perfectly. It's just too much work to try to understand and make myself understood. If I can't relax, I'm not at home.
Everything is closed all of the time. Kenny wanted to shop for ice skates for Sophia. He got there at 7:45 but they had closed at 7:30. There is no shopping on Sunday.
There's a lot of peer pressure to have everything just so. Germans are meticulous with their housekeeping, gardens, and even their cars. I never quite feel like I measure up.
It's hard to find vegetarian food, especially in smaller towns.
The clothes just don't fit right, and it's hard to find 30-something clothes. It seems like things go from super trendy teens/twenties stuff to old lady with not much in the middle.
It is really crowded. I never noticed how closed in I felt until we got to Colorado and I felt like the sky opened up and I could breathe.
There's no such thing as a line. Everybody crowds together and pushes to the front. You have to eye the gang to know your place and then be assertive about taking it.
Kenny has been in the Army for over 11 years. He can retire at 20. I sometimes ask him if he thinks we'll settle down in a forever home. He thinks we might. But where? There's no clear place to go but I'm willing to bet it will be in the West. If I could take Portland's restaurant scene, combine it with Boulder's outdoor culture and blue sky, and add a handful of family and friends then I think I could call that place my forever home.