Friday, September 4, 2009

Things that I miss and things I don't

Brought into focus by our trip home for a family wedding.

Things that I miss:
Salsa. I know I'm spoiled, having spent the past ten years living in either Space City or the Old Pueblo, but the lack of decent and/or vaguely affordable salsa is really starting to cramp my style.
Along similar lines, I miss Chipotle chicken burritos like you would not believe

Things that I don't miss:
American accents
American drivers/traffic
Sticky summer weather

It was a bit odd to go back so soon - it's only been three and a half months - and I was surprised at how jarring it was. After beings asked how we like living here, Himself said something along the lines of "London feels more like home then Houston ever did", but upon reflection we've agreed that it's not London that feels like home, it's the lifestyle. We live in the city, not the suburbs, and get to walk everywhere or use public transport. For someone who was riding the T by herself at age 11 or so, and used it to get to every single day of high school, this is what I'm used to. And a 5 min jog takes us to a huge green space where Himself can go off running and explore for long enough to wear himself out, which is more like what he grew up with. The girls have embraced the "walk everywhere" mentality, as evidenced by our hiking in Scotland and France, and the fact that today they walked the better part of a couple of miles, interspersed with bus riding.

But people asked what we didn't like about living here. So far there are a couple of things that have been tough to get used to. One is the driving, which we have a pretty good handle on by this time, but there are differences beyond just driving on the other side of the road. The biggest issue is space: the tolerance for close passing/close following/tight quarters is immeasurably higher here then in the States. Roads that Americans would have as two lanes are three here. The drivers here are "better" overall, in the sense that they are much more aware and attuned to what's going on around them (which may be dubious praise given how oblivious most American drivers are). But that's taken some getting used to.

The other, bigger, issue that has taken some getting used to is the constant monitoring of peoples' everyday activities. There are CCTV cameras everywhere, and if they chose to, The Powers That Be (whoever they are) could trace back my every move for at least the last week, if not longer. Most of the time I don't think about it (and anyone who wants to follow me around for a week is going to be seriously bored), but it's omnipresent. My understanding is that this system grew out an attempt to increase bank security, and I imagine was also influence by the Irish-British conflict, but now it seems to be tied in to terrorism. I have a hard time envisioning a scenario in which this kind of constant surveillance would ever be implemented in the United States, much less accepted. So that's been an interesting thing to get used to.

But now we're back, we've mostly readjusted to the time change (boy is it ever easier to go west then to go east!), Boo has started daycare, and Devil starts school on Monday. Which must mean that I'm starting work soon. Yikes!

1 comment:

  1. '"London feels more like home then Houston ever did", but upon reflection we've agreed that it's not London that feels like home, it's the lifestyle.'
    This is just what the doctor ordered. I hope we can get to the other side of the pond while you are still there. Imagine the damage we could do - CCTV cameras be damned!