Two weeks ago, I was having my afternoon siesta with Shanti. It was a hot day in the jungle and the late afternoon sun beat us into a dead sleep. When I finally woke up, I checked my phone and found frantic messages from my brother.
Are you up? It’s mom. It’s not good!
Great. The last thing anyone wants to hear when they’re on the other side of the world is that a family member is in trouble, especially your MOM. It takes a long time to travel that far and it’s a lot to wrap your head around in less than 24 hours. Whew.
So, I jumped on a plane to Detroit immediately and flew back to the good ol’ U. S. of A!
It’s been a year and a half since I have been out of India, and let me tell you, I felt a bit like Mr. Bean in the airport. I’ve heard about reverse culture shock but I didn’t really understand it, well, until the Mr. Bean in me was so strong that I started freaking random people out by my charming enthusiasm for American standards.
It started with getting off the plane in Newark, New Jersey. One might think the arm pit of America isn’t that great, but holy cow, the moment I stepped into the airport I was hit with a wall of aroma. . .and I’m not talking the lovely wall of pungent, aromatic curry-dirt-pee-whoknowswhat smell like an assault on your senses. It was a wall of fragrant, delicious brownies, cookies, pastries, perhaps. Oh. My. God. I dropped my bags and breathed in the air like a crazy person who just escaped from the mental institute.
IT SMELLS SO GOOD!!!! I kept yelling to the air. People walked by with confused expressions as I sniffed the air. God Bless America. Ha! I never liked that phrase so much until now.
Then, I passed a cafe on the way to my next gate and the smells of coffee, bacon, and cheese wafted over to me and literally made me giddy. The sensations hitting my olfactory system made me do a little dance at the counter. The clerk just smiled and tried not to stare in strange wonder at why the heck this weird chick (me!) was so excited to smell stuff. I mean, smells at the airport aren’t necessarily a famous memory for most people. And when I ordered a SMALL latte and it came out looking utterly gigantic?! Wow. God Bless America again!
Home sweet home. Mmmmmm!
I finally made it to Detroit and my cool dad picked me up. Yeah, I said cool. He plays guitar, rides a skateboard, and knows all the good music. I’m a lucky girl and I count my lucky stars all the time.
And then after a nice, long, HOT shower to wash off the funk of twenty five hours of traveling, I made my way to the ICU at the hospital to see my mama. She just had an aneurysm in her aorta and almost died. In fact, the doctor said that most people that suffer aortic aneurysms don’t even make it to the hospital, so my mama is one tough cookie.
When I got to the hospital, she was one drugged cookie, too. The surgery lasted TEN whole hours and all the anesthetics and drugs took days and days to leave her system. She said she saw lots of weird “things” in the room while the drugs wore off. I told her not to tell anyone else.
Since I’ve been home, I’m catching up on all of my fave American TV shows, hanging with the family, seeing friends, and enjoying the simple things in life that are so good here. . . like grocery stores and donuts! Wow. I recently ate a custard paczki (poonchkey) and I dare say it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my whole dang life. Haha! I cut the thing in half and when I finished the first half I almost cried remembering there was still a second half. I had a good laugh at myself. . .maybe even for a couple minutes. I laugh at myself all the time. It’s the only way to live.
I’ve also been remembering myself. Like, what the heck I even wear in winter! Pants, hats, jewelry I haven’t seen in years. Sliding into an old pair of jeans is like seeing a long lost friend, except that friend is ME. What a trip. Phases of myself and my life that have been packed into boxes. . . the comfortable, comforting memories of being me.
Being back in America makes me appreciate the amenities of first world. Doing laundry is so fast and easy. Going to the store to find some random thing is simple. Clean air to breathe. Raspberries, blueberries, kale and all the things I’ve missed are never hard to find. These little, unappreciated luxuries surely balance out the hard stuff.
I’m at the hospital every day.
Days are long. Sometimes stressful and sad.
We’re still waiting for my mom’s nerves to wake up in her legs and then hopefully she’ll walk again. I’m pretty sure the faeries are helping out. They always know when I need them.
If you’re reading this, wherever you are, send a little love to my mama. Send a little more love to everyone around you. Everything in this life can change so fast. One day you’re fine and the next day you can’t walk.
Say ‘I love You,’ do the things you always dreamed, appreciate walking and talking and being healthy, and never take life for granted. . .for even something like going to the grocery store to buy your favorite cheese. Most people don’t know how lucky they are.
Everything right now is hard. . .but it gets a little teeny tiny bit better as the days go by.
If there’s one good lesson my mom can teach you, it’s respect your body. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. She didn’t do those things and now she’s facing the consequences. . .and they are not fun. Not at all. Not for her or anyone around.
I’m missing my dear Shanti but I’m glad she has company until I get back.
I think I brought the sunshine and beachy vibes from Goa to Ann Arbor because since I’ve arrived it’s turned sunny and springy. I hope all the good vibes of my jungle home in India help heal my mama’s broken heart.
And I hope that you beautiful people out there can feel the love, too!!!!! Aho!