A few days ago, I returned from my first trip home to the U.S. since May. That last trip was to Los Angeles, foreign territory in the homeland for me. So really, it had been about seven months since I’d been “home, home,” back to the northeast: New York City (very briefly) and Washington D.C. (also very briefly, though less so than NYC). Anyway, seven months is a good amount of time to feel some sort of culture shock. Or, if you want to use less dramatic language: notice some stuff that you kind of never noticed before.
So here’s what I noticed:
- Man, I miss U.S. cell phone calls. Thanks to Carlos Slim, making a cell phone call in Mexico is an exercise in concision. I think, Can I finish this phone call in five sentences? Is three conceivable? In Mexico, I’ve dropped all the usual phone call niceties. Instead, my call introduction kind of blends into the first sentence, as in Heyi’llseeyouinfiveminutes. YeahI’llpickupbeersontheway. Okaybye. Making a phone call back in the U.S., I didn’t sense a palpable feeling of 200 pesos ($16-17 U.S. dollars) being lifted from my wallet. It was very pleasant.
- Times Square seemed kind of sane and not too crowded. Aside from Mexico City’s Metro Hidalgo–a centrally-located station with intersecting lines–on Saturday, D.F. rarely seems too crazy to me. Sure I’ve graphically visualized strangling a few jerky, awful bus drivers. And sure, my ass has been grabbed twice on the street. And sure, one time, a cabdriver told me that he considers Mexico City to have no rush hour because traffic exists all hours of the day. But meh. You get used to it. So it really shocked me that New York City’s most touristy spot seemed rather peaceful. To be honest, I still haven’t decided if it genuinely was emptier than normal or my idea of urban chaos has just changed profoundly. I…I just don’t know.
- I still like the U.S. very much. And yet I still like Mexico very much. Completely coincidentally, I happened to return to Mexico on one of the most Mexicany days possible: Dia de los Muertos. I spent the evening in Mexico City’s Centro Historic ogling ornate offerings and displays of calaveras and flowers. It was amazing. And I felt glad to be back. And then hungry. So I ate three street tacos.