Have you ever had the once familiar feel totally strange or new? It’s my third visit back and with each trip I find that I see things in a different light and am thrown for a loop in the most ordinary situations. When visiting from London I remember thinking that the American (and more specifically, LA) accent sounded so loud and informal compared to the English tones I’d become accustomed to. I mixed words like “lift” for elevator, and stumbled to find the American versions before I got the inevitable perplexed look from locals (still kinda do). Most memorable was feeling severely irritated by servers at restaurants who brought the bill before it was asked for and just like that, dinner was over – all 45 minutes of it. Can’t the people just hang???
Now I come by way of Malaysia where I’m learning to live with an entirely new set of norms. One of the first things I noticed upon arriving at LAX was that women were showing cleavage. Cleavage was everywhere. It’s no big deal, they were wearing regular t-shirts and tanks tops but with Malaysia being a fairly modest country I really don’t see that very much any more. I felt like a total boob gawker but it was a very obvious first impression/difference. At my hair salon I went to use the bathroom and in my effort to turn the lights on via the switches outside the room, I gave the rest of the place an impromptu light show…”oh, that’s right, the light switches are on the inside of the restrooms here…silly me!”. Then there’s getting behind the wheel. My right leg cramped up yesterday from the tilt and push action of driving and when the time came to buy gas (or petrol) I felt like I was tampering with an explosive device. I used to do all of this stuff in my sleep, upside down, and with my hands tied for crying out loud!
Of course everything else is familiar, like favorite places and favorite people, but it’s the little things that are proving to be quite comedic, humbling, or flat out fascinating in comparison. Have you ever experienced anything like this?