I Dont Know What Ive Done or If I Like Who I’ve Become

Missy Higgins. A bit wistful and hopeful.

Flashback to driving around in high school listening to BSB at top volume. Which is mostly making the experience of navigating through and sitting at my gate waiting for my flight to the ME (Middle East) even more odd. This whole experience of being pulled out of the routine started at the gate in SLC. My flight was direct to Paris so there were a bunch of different languages being spoken, including a few lost North Caroliners whose flight had been delayed. Theres something about the homogeny of Utah that makes you very quickly notice the difference of people from “not here.” I dont know how to describe it any better than that. Its the difference in coloring, the difference in facial features, clothes, mannerisms  that just screams we arent in Kansas anymore. Perhaps when you live in a more cosmopolitan area these differences blend in more, but in Utah where so many people look the same, dress the same and seem to all be related to each other – differences stick out.

Just those few things immediately disconnected me from the world of midterms, and packing and eating Cafe Rio to a world much larger than I had previously been living in. I thought the nine hours of Silver Linings Playbook, Chasing Maverick and Battleship would be enough to adjust to a whole new world, but since I didnt sleep at all on board the loud screaming of the man on the other end of the row right before landing was still startling – he apparently was having a seizure. Another new experience – Ive never been on a plane with a medical emergency. Im pretty sure the flight crew was more freaked than the passengers. Fortunately multiple doctors on board, and things seemed ok- but again the medical personnel now spoke French and I recalled the little bit of high school French as the English-speaking doctor tried to explain to the French airport medical team that the German man had a seizure.

Even though in Utah I sometimes feel on the outside and not part of the culture, Im still an American, I speak English and I understand the rules of that world. Now even though there are signs in English, everyone speaks French and Im getting by mostly following gestures and my extreme familiarity with airport protocol that I hope still applies in other countries. Now Im sitting at the gate for my flight, and the flight before us is going to Kiev. So there is a mix of very blond, Europeans sitting next to dark-haired, hijab and sweatpants wearing Arabs. Every once in a while I get a whiff of what it smells like when we walk into the Middle Eastern store in Utah combined with the smell of human bodies . It smells… familiar. And to add to the mix of old and new there is a girl wearing a green Ralph Lauren sweater that I just gave away, and there were LDS missionaries on my flight to Paris. And one girl just asked to borrow my iPhone cord so she could charge her phone on my computer – shes going to the ME but lives in North Carolina. And it comes full circle.

Is this what the world is like when you leave home? This strange feeling that your world is slipping away with every accent, every exchanged smile with a stranger, with every decision about whether to try to ask for something in another language or just saying nothing and staying in English. And then its returned to you slightly changed like looking through 3D glasses. Youre not exactly sure what is real anymore, but right now Im both cautious and excited about it all.

Maybe Im actually home now.

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