Today, I’m reflecting on returning to the United States for a visit. As you’re reading this, I am waking up back in Nashville, Tennessee, where I grew up. I am visiting my folks and will get the pleasure of seeing my sons, daughter-in-law, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and other extended family members.
This is my first trip back to the States since I moved to Morocco. I always found it surreal to return when I lived in Italy and I can only imagine as I’m writing this, it will be the case this time as well. Maybe even more so. It’s important to reflect on things you’ve learned from past experiences and to reflect on possible outcomes for this time.
I’m imagining today what my trip will be like. I will travel from Morocco to Madrid, to New York, to Nashville and it will take about fifteen hours. That means I will potentially need three different currencies if I want something to eat or drink in one of the airports where I am waiting. It also means there will be a cacophony of languages around me. At least until I get to Nashville and then I’ll have to tune my ear to the Southern twang that will surround me. I’ll pick up more of that while I’m there and when I return, my husband won’t understand a word I say.
The Madrid airport is huge, and even though I have almost a two-hour layover, I have some concerns about making my connection. I flew a few times a week when I worked, but things have certainly changed, especially for international travel.
I remember after being in Italy a while and returning to the States some of the things I noticed. They were things like all the signs being in English, large cars, large roads, large water glasses, lots of ice, temporary looking architecture, and lots of fast food. I’m curious about how it will feel this time, the same, or different.
While I’m away, Ramadan will start in Morocco. I’m curious and wary of this holiday where I’ve heard everything closes and during the day, the city is like a ghost town. After sundown, everyone comes out to eat, greet their friends and neighbors and spend most of the evening as they usually would during the daytime. The clocks have already been rolled back to pre-daylight savings time, and everyone is preparing.
When I return I will try to accomplish the fasting ritual for the last two weeks of the holiday. Wish me luck. I already know I am not a very self-disciplined person. I think it’s important to experience the culture of a new country to understand what they are feeling and experiencing. Even though they start this ritual as babies and it is linked to their religion. They have support and pressure from family, friends, and neighbors to accomplish this. I’m going to have to rely on my own strength. Yikes!
I’m excited to see my family and discover what things I notice in the States and what I miss about Morocco. Will I be excited to return? What does Ramadan have in store for me? Where there benefits to reflecting? This is the first time my sons and I have been all together at the same time in three years. Much too long.
During my two-week stay, I’m hoping to revisit some of the historical monuments around Nashville. It’s been a long, long time and I remember enjoying them as a child and want to visit them as a worldlier adult to find out what new perspectives I’ve gathered. Stay tuned to hear more about my travels.