So I've now been Stateside for about a month and a half. Most of my time has been spent in Vermont with my parents, but I've also been to PA twice and am now visiting folks in Colorado. The first time in PA was for a family reunion, the second was at the beginning of August for a "re-entry retreat."
I've seen a lot of family and friends since being back and have started making progress on "what's next" for me (e.g. Nursing School at EMU in Harrisonburg in January), but it still feels a bit like an extended vacation since I haven't really settled down yet. Staying with my parents just feels like an extended stop-over before going to Virginia.
All in all I haven't had a huge amount of time to sit and reflect on the last couple of years spent in the UK, but I'm ok with that for the moment. It's hard to try and synthesise the last three years into something concrete and manageable. It takes time. A lot of the people at re-entry retreat had been back anywhere from 8 to 12 months before attending. I was there after being back for a month. Only a few more had been back for a shorter amount of time than me, but the vast majority seemed to have been back for at least a couple of months. In retrospect I think waiting at least 3 to 6 months is better so you've been in US culture for a little while as opposed to hardly at all.
While there are certainly a lot of things I could mention, the most striking aspect for me is with travel. Cars, cars, everywhere and extremely necessary (outside of major US cities) to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. Related to travel I've noticed my "gut reaction" isn't attuned to the US at all anymore. I see traffic coming from the left, but I still expect it to come from the right. As I'm crossing the street I can see traffic coming from the right (after I'm halfway across the road), but I still expect to get broadsided from the left. Even the paint in the road doesn't give me the same reaction. Yellow lines are typically on the side of the road in the UK, while white is the dividing line in the middle (if there is a line)...so dotted white lines to me make me think traffic could be going both directions, when in fact it's not. Turning across traffic and in and out of side streets also gives me second thoughts. I'll get use to it again, but it will take some time...or a few close calls.
A few pictures from the last month or so...
My Parents yard from the left side - chicken coop in the middle
View from the deck
Right side of yard
View from the Green Monster
My dad in the middle of a bite
What we were standing under
Down off the Monster
Area we stood again
Sunrise the next morning
Views in Colorado up at Royal Arch
Same shot, two times, one gets the distance, the other close