on assimilation

Just because we’re back in the States doesn’t mean we haven’t gone through the typical Foreign Service adjustment process. Oh, have we!

At first everything was new and exciting. Libraries? Playgrounds? Paved roads? Any food you can possibly imagine? Yes, please! All of that! All of the time!

Then, the depression stage. Things we would have killed to have in Benin now seemed commonplace, and we found ourselves focusing on the negative. Why does traffic have to be bad? Why are pineapples so expensive? Why do there have to be so many choices about everything all the time?

After a while comes acceptance and then finally assimilation. For me I think that moment arrived last Friday night, when the only thing I wanted to do was explore an allegedly amazing grocery store that somehow escaped my knowledge until now, a little place called Wegmans.

Now, admittedly, Wegmans is more than your average grocery store. It is what happens when your average grocery stores meets Costco which meets Trader Joe’s which meets Whole Foods which meets a charming local bakery which meets a farmer’s market, and so on. As such, it is the subject of these sort of grand proclamations throughout the Internet, and even got some free publicity from Alec Baldwin when the actor told David Letterman that he tried to get his mom to move out to L.A., but she declined: “And leave Wegmans?”

Lobster pretzel twist? Because, Wegmans.
Lobster pretzel twist? Because, Wegmans.

But still, it’s a grocery store. And it was a Friday night. And that’s how I spent it. (And it was great!) I’m pretty sure this means I’ve fully assimilated to my current exotic locale of American suburbia. Who would have thought?

But as per usual in the Foreign Service life, just as soon as you settle in, it’s time to start getting ready to move on. Does that seem depressing to any of you non-FS readers? I can see how it would, but let me explain, because it’s really not.

Perhaps it’s a testament to how well-suited I am for this career and its accompanying lifestyle, because I must say, even though it’s been a great year stateside, even though we were lucky to end up in just the sort of house we wanted, in just the sort of neighborhood we’d hoped to find, just as much as I love all our local playgrounds and playgroups and Flynn’s school, just as amazing as it is to be able to eat any sort of ethnic food I crave, just as nice as it is to have collected a lovely circle of friends for ourselves, if I’m to be completely honest, I have to admit that I’m starting to get antsy.

We’ve created a great life here, yes, but it’s getting too comfortable. For the sort of people who thrive in the Foreign Service — those of us who believe that an ideal life looks like a collage of the most interesting experiences one can collect — comfort is the enemy.

And so it’s nearing time to go. Though when we do, I will most certainly miss Wegmans.

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3 Responses to on assimilation

  1. Brooke says:

    The choices! That gets me every time – the first time we came back from being overseas I was totally overwhelmed trying to buy ketchup. I also get super nervous about getting “comfortable” in the states. I mean, it feels nice (as indicated by the word) but I totally get what you mean about the “ideal” life being a collage.

    Best wishes in the next transition

  2. Allison says:

    While I do look forward to riding the metro and being back in the US for a bit, I’m glad my husband still needs to do his consular tour so we won’t have more than about 8 months in DC, depending on language.

    I only lived in DC just under a year, while pregnant/with a newborn, so I don’t feel like I know the city well. I think the adjustment back there is going to be as hard as it was adjusting to Manila. DC is a pretty overwhelming city if you haven’t spent a lot of time weaving through those roads!

  3. Mara Rae says:

    Hey! Wasn’t sure how to message you but I’d love to join the FB blogger group and meet up in person. We’re in DC for a year 🙂

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