Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reacclimating After Three Years Abroad

It's been two weeks and I still catch myself at random moments, like in line at the grocery store, being blown away by the fact that I'm actually living in the States again. Forty months was a long stretch to be away from friends, family and the culture that resonates subconsciously in my bones, and now suddenly it's done. After learning how to numb the distance, it's been invigorating to not have to anymore. I guess maybe that's part of what they call culture shock. It's good f@#%ing awesome to be home.

Right now our actual home is an old warehouse building turned into loft spaces in the Arts District of downtown L.A., near Little Tokyo. I've gotten used to living out of my suitcases, which is a good thing since the cargo ship carrying the rest of our stuff won't arrive here until some time in November. Being forced to live minimally has been a good reminder that there's a lot of crap I don't really need (except for my books and art supplies. Missing that stuff for sure).

Re-immersing back into U.S. culture has been a trip. Little things blow my mind. Giant stores like Ralphs and Target that carry anything and everything. Cars yielding to pedestrians. Everyone speaking English. Then there's the food. After friends and family, food has definitely been one of the highlights since returning from the land of beef, especially since I'm not much of a beef eater. Mexican food. Sushi. Vietnamese. Thai. New York style pizza. Did I say it's good to be home?

One of the biggest adjustments since returning, besides going from spring to fall and losing a summer, has been transportation. Annie and I made the decision to get bikes and Metro passes, and roll car-free. Mass transit in Buenos Aires is cheap and extensive, and we had gotten used to living in the city without a car. In L.A. it's definitely more of a challenge, and I admit being skeptical of it working at first, but not only does it seem totally doable living and working downtown or near the Metro lines, it's been the bomb to be out shredding a city on two wheels again.

So yeah, after two weeks, I'm still definitely dealing with some culture shock, but the only really byproducts of it have been giant grins and an occasional dance when no one's looking, so I'm not really sweating it too much right now.

The Last Stop
Above: One of my favorite moments since being back was Day 10. Battled city buses across L.A. just so I could touch the Pacific and tell her I made it home.

Currently Listening To:

Song: Home
Artist: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (official site)

Currently Reading:
Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey
by Chuck Palahniuk

3 comments:

Hank Putna, said...

Jimmy,

It's still hard for me. After living in Buenos Aires for 2 years, and Costa Rica for 3, South Carolina, where my family is, has turned out to be the strangest third world country of all. I imagine that you will have a hard time relating to the denial, for lack of a better word, that you will encounter, after being able to see the U.S. with the clarity from the distance of South America. Still, I wish you a lot of luck. Your art, and your dedication to making it, is inspiring. I hope you are able to gain some serious rewards from your work in the USA. You deserve it.
Best of luck,
Hank

andrew wicklund said...

i'm not sure that i can add anything what you, or hank, covered--but in short, it's about not only observing but reacting to the life of being back. you can choose to fight it, accept it, or roll with it. i'm finding that the first two seem the ideoligical answers, but that rolling with it is the most harmonious. rolling doesn't mean "giving into" it means working with. taking the best of, and espousing the worst of. rolling also means recognizing where you are in the journey...ups and downs and lulls...and working with them rather than against. bottom line, embrace this moment right now. where ever you sit reading this.

Jimmy Danko said...

Hank and Drew, thank you for your comments and I think you both make excellent points. This post was one of the more difficult one's I've ever written. I went through 4 different versions of it before I was finally able to decide on a cohesive thought that at least in some way reflected what I'm going through.

In the end I chose to focus on the positive and I think Hank you touch on one of two important parts of my equation both living here and abroad that I don't refer to much in my post, my art. Both in South America and now here at home, my creations are my life's focus. They are my therapy and my distraction. My confidant and my aspiration. They give solace to the traffic jam of thoughts in my head. Take that away and I picture some internal version of the London riots. Chaos.

The second of the two parts that deserves some recognition is my partner Annie. It has been an amazing gift to have a partner in crime to share this all with, someone who is going through their own version of the experience at the same moment. I think its the same reason why an expat community can be so tightly knit. Unfortunately, that community only really fully functions at its epicenter. We come back here as different people then when we left, strangers in a bizarro version of a a place we once knew. We can attempt to explain it to others, but I think the only way you can really understand it is if you have gone through it yourself, and that makes me appreciate you guys sharing your comments all that much more.