Back home again. Or, at least back in the US of A again. I wasn’t gone that long, so there’s no real adjustment (this one time I was in England for four months, and when I came back home afterwards I was weirded out by my own bathtub – their tubs are narrower and deeper and it took me several days to get over the feeling that there was something strange about the shape of my American tub). But I will admit to being glad I can drink tap water again! In Moscow you can, although apparently no one does, but in St. Petersburg you are not supposed to. And that switch back to English was such a relief . . . I am a competent human being again who knows what all the rules are. And seeing people smile again! This is one of those weird cultural things, but when I’m in a place that is less generally smile/friendliness prone than the US, I end up feeling rebuffed all the time, even though I know it doesn’t mean anything. By American standards I am quite reserved and quiet in person, but abroad I notice that I seem to be rather friendly and outgoing, even though my behavior hasn’t changed – perhaps there is something to be said for national character after all.
But some things aren’t so different. On the flight back from Moscow I was sitting next to two young Russian women who were I think headed for a vacation in New York. The one next to me took out her passport twice to examine the US visa – something I had been doing with my Russian visa when I first got it. They seemed really excited about their trip – I hope they have a good time here.
So I am sitting here at 7 in the morning listening to Joyce DiDonato sing Handel, which seems appropriate somehow.