Sunday, November 9, 2008

How's life?

It's cooled down quite a bit here in Chicago. We have about 5 C and it's grey out. I even saw a few snowflakes. We actually had snowstorms not far from Chicago. 

Last week I got the first letter from my mom. My mother loves to write letters and I receive up to 3 letters a week sometimes but usually about one every two weeks.
In her letter she asked me lot's of questions about how it is to live in America. My mother has never been to the US before and I think she is having a difficult time imagining it.
One question she asked was: "Are people in shops and restaurants bitchy and do you have to be dressed up when you run errands?"
Obviously she has never been to the US.
People who know me better have heard me talk about people going to restaurants in their pajamas in America. I have to say it's much better in Chicago, especially since we live in a nicer neighborhood. I have actually seen people wear high heels to breakfast places (which is something I would never do). However - if you do run your errands dressed in sweat pants people will not be rude to you. 

I am not a very "chatty" person, so I definitely had to get used to the fact that everybody wants to talk to you. I now know half of the staff at Trader Joes (my local grocery store) better than I have ever known any of the sales assistants at my local C1000 in Delft - which I frequented for 3 1/2 years. I am slowly getting used to it and in a way I find it nice because I don't know many people here and it gives the neighborhood a villagy feel which you wouldn't expect from such a big city. We have gotten to know the girl from our local hardware store a bit since we have been buying our paint for the five rooms we already painted there. We now know that she is married, has a son, just moved into her new apartment and that she wants to paint her living room but that she is going to get her husband to do it. We also found out that she has an identical twin when we visited the hardware stores "sister" store and her twin was working there.

I especially like the gay couple running an antiques store just around the corner from us. We bought 6 pieces of furniture from them in one go. They are the kind of guys who are really just doing it because they like doing it and who feel kind of embarrassed to take your money even though you are already paying less than you'd be paying in other stores. The store is called Praha if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood (and for some reason you are not with me because I would probably take you there anyway) - I can strongly recommend it.

Another question I am being asked a lot is "So are you having a hard time adjusting? Do you miss Europe a lot?". Ok, actually that's two questions. 
I am really trying to not think too much about it. I never understood my expat friends who are constantly talking about how nice it is where they are from and how horrible it is where they are now. Unless you are a political refugee I see no reason why you wouldn't just move back to were you are from if you like it so much better there. I did not like living in Holland anymore so we moved. Ok, we moved about two years after I had enough of Holland but matter of fact is that we moved. I knew one girl who started every - and I am not exaggerating here - EVERY sentence with "In Italy ....", everybody just started calling her "In ITALY".
I am not going to lie - of course I have bouts of homesickness. I am not really missing Holland or Austria (yet). I like Chicago, I like where I live, I love the neighborhood and the people but I do miss my friends. Most of the time I am doing fine and I often feel really good but then the feeling creeps up, a little bit of sadness, mixed with emptiness inside. I miss sitting next to a really good friend and the friend just spontaneously gives me a hug or puts their hand on my back. I miss knowing that somebody is waiting all week to see me and I miss looking forward all week to seeing one of my people , looking forward so much that I don't even mind going to work even though I hate it but I know at the end of the day I will get too see my friend (or not minding to go to work because there is somebody there I really like - as a friend of course). I miss the content and satisfied feeling I have after spending an evening with Mi, chatting about world politics or religion or TV shows or whatever really or Mo making me feel like I am back at home at my moms place by giving me Almdudler and making me Schnitzl and just totally getting my viennese humor or the long car rides with LA to our badminton club ... 

I am sure I am going to make good friends here but you know, it takes a while. Making a good friend is like building your own home. You have to invest a lot of work in it, it will take a while but when you are at the point were the foundation is built it's the most rewarding feeling ever.

But to sum it up - I AM having a good time, I am enjoying myself. But I still hope all you guys from Holland and Austria (and where ever you are right now Charly) will come to visit me soon, so you can see our colorful apartment!

Talking about meeting people - I signed up for a 101 sewing class. Since I got a sewing machine as a present for our wedding I want to learn how to use it. It's just one evening but it will be good to learn something new. I am on my way to become the perfect 50s housewife. I still have to work on the whole tidiness freak part though. Give me time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Aline, take care of yourself! I miss you here for sure! you have probably heard already about 5 stages of a foreigner abroad, so you will feel them again but afterwards you are already known with it as one time ago you moved from Austria to NL.

Big gugs!