in America.

I am sitting in the living room of my uncle and aunt's home, just north of Seattle. My laptop sits on a cream colored tablecloth decorated with olive green leaves, and strewn with books, purses, phones, and pens. To my left sits the flowered couch that throughout my childhood has welcomed me for movies and stories and popcorn and books and snuggles. From my seat, through the long windows that open onto the front yard, I can watch birds swoop by, or squirrels dash across the lawn, or my brothers kicking the soccer ball around: all taking advantage of the expanse of greenery that my aunt has worked so hard on. The singing goat and croaking frog puppets have been dug up, there is a box of Lucky Charms on top of the fridge, and the oil paintings done by my aunt's father, scenes from Fresno, California to Green Lake, downtown to our house in the San Juans, still watch us from the walls. Twinkling lights bathe the backyard in the evening, my uncle revels in his role of short order cook at breakfast, and the beds in the loft are as inviting as ever. Some things have changed, of course, but still, this house is so familiar, so like home, that it's hard to believe that over a year has passed since I last ate homemade bread at the yellow kitchen table or lay on the grass in between the rows of raspberry bushes.

On the whole, we've slid back into the city, back into America, rather easily. Sure, we have crises: the paper towels are too big, the freeways are five lanes wide, our Sienna feels huge, there are trees and building everywhere, (really, everything is just bigger). The ocean lies minutes away, the mountains necessitate only an hour drive. Our change from country village to the near suburbs of a large city was oddly smooth, with culture shock, yes, but not as much as I had expected. The differences will become more apparent eventually, in two months time, when we are moved into a house and I will have been walking through the doors of the community college for a week. When real life sets in, cleaning bathrooms and homework and cooking supper, the reality that we live here now will arrive. For now though, it simply feels that we're on vacation, that we've come back to the States to see family and that in a month we will be back in our red shuttered house across the the field of cows. That maybe the new Migros in town will be finished, the bike path between Thiancourt and Grandvillars will open, and we'll hear our cousin's first words. We won't be of course. We'll miss those openings and milestones. The Migros will be a year old before we see it, the bike trail will need a new coat of paint down the middle, and A will be talking a mile a minute.

None of that has entered the realm of the tangible yet. We're still floating above real life, lost in the soft waves of vacation and reunions. And for now, it is enough to meet friends at the beach, order pizza from Costco, drive north to see cousins, and sit on the lawn armed with a stack of library books. Buttered popcorn and sunshine and glimpses of the ocean bridge the moments that we have to take out of day to register for school and go house hunting. Fro-yo reunions and Despicable Me in the tiny theatre downtown are the highlights of our days. Church camp, mornings at the farmer's market, and birthday celebrations add the excitement.

And for now, this is enough.


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