So I realize there's been a lot of things that have changed for me since I last lived in the US. I knew this, but I didn't really know this, not until now as I'm confronted by little culture-shock after little culture-shock, day after day, each leaving me shaking my head or furrowing my brow.
The last month has not been easy for me. Work is super interesting, and related to my work in Cambodia, but it's on such a different level that sometimes it feels disconnected. Like in fancy meetings in ornately decorated government offices, where I landed several times during my first week, in discussions about communities and human rights and where these mega-projects should be going. Anyway, I don't even want to go there right now.
What I really want to do is vent. A few days ago, as I was moving my things to my new place, I realized that someone had stolen one of my luggage pieces, left in a storage in the hotel where I was staying. Fifty pounds of clothing, books, trinkets from last few years. All my favorite vintage dresses, several of the silk and linen dresses I made in Cambodia, many of my Mayle dresses and jackets that I have been collecting throughout the years (but not all of them- thank goodness), letters, souvenirs - all things I valued enough to pack into the suitcase and bring with me, but somehow was able to leave it in a purportedly secure storage room in a hotel?
The realization that someone had stolen my things left me reeling and did nothing but add to the already foreign experience in this cold city. It pushed me over the edge in some ways, and all I could do was cry out of anger and frustration. After filing a police report and arguing with the hotel owner, and beating myself up, I now feel this huge loss and this mounting anger.
At the same time, I know these are "just" things. In the past week, there has been a death in my extended family and Ethan's grammie is having health issues. These are just clothes, no?!
But not really, which goes back to my first sentence about how things are different for me. When I last lived in the US, I bought things constantly. Many things I am glad I invested in, but the vast majority of purchases were done for the sake of buying and consuming. I do not even think it registered with me at the time.
Upon my return Stateside, I faced boxes and boxes of clothing and shoes. And frankly, it made me feel disgusting because, in the past 3+ years of my life (very happy, fulfilled years despite difficulties), I did not really miss all those things. Yes, I missed the feeling of wearing a beautiful dress or a coat every now and then, but I certainly did not miss all the things I accumulated and stored.
Surprisingly, I was very happy, living with very much less. As I look back now, I see that Cambodia forced me to go cold turkey on my consumption habits.
I came back to the US aware of my past consumption habits and determined to be more careful because, I realized, I already had a very full wardrobe and didn't really need anything else.
But with this incident... the buying moratorium may be lifted.