Whenever I think about going back to the US, I find myself focusing on the little things in every day life rather than huge themes or expectations. Here are some of the things I am looking forward to upon touchdown on the runway in the United States in two weeks:
Hair: First, I will be able to cut my hair again. Upon observing the masses and their choices of style and dye-job here in the UK, I promised myself never to trust any British barber wielding a pair of silver shears. Now, for all my British friends out there--no worries, your horrific hair creations will indeed hit the US in another two years, however, in the ensuing time, I can confidently step into a shop and say "Long layers and highlights" without coming out with half of my hair blonde and the other half sierra brown, pink streaks in odd places, and a mullet. I can also curl my hair again, which is a waste of time here given the humidity kills it within twenty minutes of my exiting a climate-controlled environment.
Dunkin' Donuts: The only reason this gets its own category is because I had a dream that somehow I was in the US, and my first instinct was to peel through the nearest drive through for an iced coffee.
Hours: In order to eliminate the possibility of jet lag, I keep very odd hours here in the UK. I get up in the late morning/early afternoon and go to bed really late at night. Essentially, if I transfer those hours minus five for the east coast of the US, they become "normal" again. Morning will once again become a tangible reality rather than an "in theory" occurance while I am still sleeping.
A House: To be honest, this would have been more useful to me here than back in the US because of the theory of the "separation of spaces." I have spent my graduate school career in one room with a bathroom, and in this room, I rested, ate, relaxed, and studied. What I realized was that there were too many associations to be had with only one space. And, of course, the predominant ones were: abject fear that I will not finish this dissertation followed by obsessive worry. Doesn't exactly make for a stress-free, TV watching night if I can see "Chapter 3" staring at me from my laptop out of the corner of my eye. It was harder for me coming from a larger, separated environment and going into this than it may have been for others more used to "college accomodation." Yes, when you're old, you do indeed need more room.
I also am not going to complain about moving off of a hallway in the college equivalent of Chinatown with groups of people who may create some amazing Chinese food, but to do so, leave raw chicken on the counter for three days marinading and wash raw meat in the sink next to my clean dishes (which, as you can imagine, quickly changes them back to "unclean" with the added "unsanitary" element to boot).
Work: I go back to work when I return home. I'll be busier, yes, and I'll probably look back on these idyllic days of working at my own pace in my home environment wistfully within a week. However, I'll go to work for eight hours, come home, and then have nothing left to worry about for the day. Your dissertation can always use more work. No matter what you do, in a five-day-a-week job, you don't go past 5pm. That is peace of mind.
The Fall: I missed most of New England's fall last year, and it wasn't until I moved here that I realized just how unique the season is there. I had lived in New England all my life to that point, and naturally, I thought at least some of the foliage change would also be present here, but trees don't lose too many leaves here because it doesn't get as cold as it does at home. I am also finding apples lacking. My ideal day off from my job will be watching my favorite fall movies baking a pie.
Driving: Although good for the health, I must say that I can do without the long, unpredictable wait for the local bus and the long walk around town for errands. The busses exist, which certainly one-ups the US, but they come at odd intervals and you could be sitting at a stop for anywhere between 5 to 25 minutes before one comes by. I am also limited by what I can carry when I do buy things. For larger items or larger quantities, I have to call Tesco to deliver, however, there are certain things that the superstore won't deliver. For example, I have a pile of boxes that have to be sent home to the US. My problem is that without a car, I have to pick one up and carry it to the post office, which is half a mile away, and therefore, I can only send one at a time. How much I will enjoy no longer being limited by my lack of upper body strength.
Law and Order: There is nothing like sitting down after a long day of work with a glass of white wine and a Law and Order marathon on TNT. NOTHING.
Not, of course, to forget, that in coming here, I left some very important and special people behind, and I will be very happy to be able to see them again.
Ok, time for my long walk for my Starbucks coffee. Let's hope the exodus is worth it.