Just a few thoughts after being back in Iowa for 10 days:
- To the good people of Burlington: I'm not a complete idiot. Promise. When I look at you with my mouth half-hanging open like I'm about to say something but then it takes me a few more seconds before anything actually comes out, it is only because I am stopping myself from speaking to you in Portuguese. I guess maybe I became more fluent than I thought - Portuguese is always the first thing that comes to mind when I am conversing with strangers. I find myself having to translate to English in my head before I can talk. Meanwhile I stand there looking like someone pressed the pause button.
- I need to get out, quickly. Yesterday Gabriela and I were running a few errands (aka shopping) around town. As we were making the trek across the parking lot into Lowe's, I told Gabs, "Wow, today is a really nice day" (actually, I told her that in Portuguese, but that isn't important to the story.) When we got back to the car and we were driving away, I noticed the thermometer was reading 26 degrees F. Holy crap. I am losing all perspective. I don't care if the sun is shining. Anything below freezing should never be considered "nice". (Eric, stop grinning. I am not turning Iweegan. I am not!!!)
- People in Brasil were always quick to tell me how cold Americans are (and I'm not talking temperature here.) I didn't quite get that. I think I am a pretty warm and friendly person, and I know lots of other Americans who are far from "cold". After being completely ignored by more than one restaurant hostess, having a hotel cleaning staff member snap at me about putting up my "do not disturb" sign when I smiled and kindly told her she didn't have to worry about cleaning my room since my daughter was still sleeping, and several other encounters with not-so-nice people in the service industry, I think I get it. If this is the experience Brasilians have when they visit, I guess I totally understand their impression of Americans. They don't come here and interact with close friends, the vacationing foreigners' contact is pretty much limited to the service industry. And while there are plenty of exceptions, they are not always the friendliest lot of folks.
- On the other hand, I have been LOVING dealing with customer service departments here in the US. The customer is always right here, even when they are dead wrong. My cell phone company credited me a full month's service when I questioned the fact that they started charging me several days before my phone was even activated, despite that their policy is to start billing from the purchase date, not the activation date. My bank reversed two small monthly maintenance fees charged to an account. I thought the fees were an error, but turns out they were in fact justified. But they refunded it anyway as a gesture of goodwill. I have made lots of returns to stores and received full cash refunds. Customer service here is so much better than Brasil! Even if people aren't as friendly. :)
-Gabriela is just as cute here as she was in Brasil. I am her mom, and, of course, I think she is the most adorable thing on the face of the planet. But I had been attributing all the attention she got in Brasil to the fact that she has bright blue eyes, curly light-ish hair, and lots of cool baby gear (all of which made her stand out A LOT in Belo Horizonte). While everyone noticed her eyes in Brasil and no one has made any mention of them here, she is still turning heads and it is still impossible to do anything quickly when she is with me. It could just be the way she flirts with and grins at every single person we pass, but people are constantly stopping us even here and raving about how gorgeous she is. It's almost enough to give her Momma a big head!
- And finally, it does feel good to be home. I love Brasil and am already suffering some serious saudades (the least of which involves the weather.) And I'm still not sure I have totally accepted that we are here to stay and not just for a visit. But it is nice to be back.