Somewhere More Familiar

Fingers with faces and arms drawn on them to look like they're hugging.
 Sometimes you just need something familiar in your life. Source: Flickr

I have a confession.

There’s an “American Store” about three blocks from our flat.

And I went in. 

And it was glorious. 

You know in movies when the camera spins around a person while they stay stationary, looking at something without noticing what’s happening around them? There’s generally a montage song playing? It was like that. So much so that the clerk approached me and asked if I needed help. Not in a “can I help you find something?” way … more of an “are you okay in my store and should I be worried?” way. (That’s when the music would cut out and the character would be pulled back to reality.)

Froot Loops, a staple in any cereal aisle in America.
Froot Loops are nowhere to be found
in London cereal aisles. (Source: Flickr)

I was just standing in that tiny store, just gazing at the shelves. Pop-tarts. Stove Top stuffing. Cap’n Crunch and Froot Loops — all the sugary cereals that I’m never going to buy, but am so used to seeing in the cereal aisle.

It was all familiar. It was just like home

I felt my brain relax. Buying and preparing anything from this store would take no conversions, no extra effort. I knew what every box held. The directions were in cups and Fahrenheit, not milliliters and Celsius. There would be no guess work. No trying to find a British equivalent for an American ingredient.

Up until that moment I would have told you that I hadn’t noticed feeling like an expat. Lately I’ve realized that living anywhere is like living, well, anywhere — Wake up. Do something. Eat something. Fall asleep. Start over. Life is life and it’s what you make of it, not where you are.

I’ve come to discover that the smallest differences can feel like the biggest differences. The things I thought would be easy — like buying lightbulbs or using a washing machine — turn out to be more frustrating because they’re juuuuuust different enough that I can’t run on auto-pilot.

(AND: I keep seeing doppelgängers of friends and family. It’s like my brain sees something that is *almost* familiar, then grasps it and runs with it the rest of the way.)

I didn’t wind up buying anything, and I don’t think I will. But I wouldn’t rule out visiting again, just to feel a little bit at home.

(Ok, that’s a lie. I did buy a box of Panko bread crumbs because it was 40p which is a crazy good deal in any country not because it was on a shelf in an American store.) 

(Also, props to Sister Hazel’s album “…Somewhere More Familiar” for the title and also because I love that album.)

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