I arrived yesterday back in San Francisco and maybe I’ve just done this too many times but everything feels quiet normal, even hearing English. I drove a car, for example, and it was as if I never stopped driving. Am I happy to be back? Yes. It was definitely time. But I’m also happy that I went after something I love, spent years getting to know it and living in it. I didn’t just sit in my cubicle working my 9-5 and daydreaming about living in a far-away land. Over 6 years, I went back and forth between here and there, living there for half the time.
As for the things that have stood out since I got back. Three things are the cold (it’s winter, of course, and currently around 10C), money and silence.
It’s so odd looking at dollar bills, using them, and rediscovering their worth. When buying something, I think about if I would have spent that much in Reals. For instance, a hot cocoa at Peets was US$2.50. In my dollar-using mind, that’s cheap. In my real-using mind, I would have likely said “no, thanks” to spending R$5 on it. Perhaps it’s a bad comparison since having hot cocoas in Brazil isn’t so usual seeing as how it’s hot and stuff.
The silence is the other thing that stands out. I’m finding places so silent here. I was never anywhere in Brazil where I didn’t hear nothing (if that makes sense). Perhaps what I’m saying is there’s no overt noise (like from camelos, for ex.). Forgive me for saying, but I feel like here it is a choice to make sound while in Brazil it ‘s just loud no matter what. If I find myself here in the middle of a mall or a bar on a Friday night, that’s an obvious choice. If I don’t like it, I can just leave. In Brazil, no matter where I lived, I couldn’t find a place absent sound.
I should also comment on my complaints, ie comparisons. While talking to my brother and hanging out with him yesterday, I found myself making some comparisons. It was then that I realized how useless they are. Why? I wasn’t considering my audience. He can hear me but he won’t really know what I’m talking about (without living in Brazil first). So what I realized, as valuable for me, is just the opposite. For every time that I made a comparison to a Brazilian friend who hadn’t been to the US, I was likely saying something that held no value for them. What they probably heard was an American complaining about something Brazilian. In other words, to me it was a comparison yet a veiled complaint. To them, it was a complaint yet a veiled comparison.