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March 30, 2009

So being home has been a bit of an adjustment – and not just because I have to make my own coffee every morning. I thought, when we were in Italy, that I would be glad to be back in the world where I can read all the signs and I can understand what people around me are saying. Some of the first English signs we encountered were at the airport – Welcome to the United States. Yet we found the words on the sign and the words in the hearts of our people are just not the same. At the airport I had a glimpse of what people get to see when they visit our country for the first time, and I was appalled and embarrassed. We were treated like cattle. The non-U.S. citizens were treated even worse, talked to like they were stupid because they can’t speak English. And the conversations that I could hear around me really weren’t worth hearing. Arguing. Bickering. Rudeness.

I know that the Atlanta airport is not exactly a good representation of the hearts of our people, but I really think it should be. It is no wonder people around the world think we are rude and self-absorbed. We are! Nowhere in all our travels did we encounter anyone as rude as the people at the airport in our very own country. We fully expected that everyone in Paris would hate us, and yet everywhere we went we were greeted with a cheerful “Bonjour!” But here, no one even takes the time to look at you. They hold out their hand for your passport, glance at it, and move on to the next cow. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. When Eric and I were leaving for our honeymoon 10 years ago, living in Mississippi at the time, we had a layover in Atlanta. After our experience at the airport, we vowed we would never come back again. Just another example of why you should never say never.

My purpose here isn’t to bash America, only to offer a contrasting view. I love our country, I love what it stood for in the eyes of our founding fathers, but visiting Europe was for me a very eye-opening experience. The people there, especially when you get away from the city, seem to have such an incredible appreciation for life. They enjoy it, they make the most of it, and you can see it in their faces. They take the time to do things well. I was amazed to see how everything is made of stone and brick, all carefully laid by someones hand. There was so little concrete and wood and plastic. And in the cathedrals and monuments we saw I marveled at how every single surface was made beautiful. The floors, ceilings, everything – all works of art.  And the food, seriously, they really know how to make food taste the best that it can – and not just in the “nice” restaurants. The pasta is home made, the olive oil is fresh, there are a hundred different kinds of cheese (most of them I couldn’t identify), and the hot chocolate is what it says – hot chocolate, with a little milk to make it drinkable. It was thick like hot pudding, and I couldn’t get enough! I had two at the Rome airport while we were waiting for our flight home because I knew I may never have it like that again (and because we had 10 Euros burning a hole in Eric’s pocket). That is probably why I was able to walk 5+ miles every day for two weeks and not lose a single pound.

So I will admit that when we came home to gray, rainy skies, rude people and a house full of sick children, I was a little depressed. I think Eric said it best. He said he was “overwhelmed, underwhelmed, and well, just whelmed in general.” But today the skies are blue, the kids are better, and I’m optimistic again. I’m determined to spend more time doing things that make life good and less time doing things that make life, well, less good. More time at the park, less time at Wal-Mart. More time enjoying the kids, less time disciplining them. More time loving people, less time ignoring them. More books, less TV. More blogging, less Facebook. And definitely, definitely, more hot chocolate.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2009 10:01 am

    Well said and welcome home!

  2. Debby Morton permalink
    April 17, 2009 6:22 pm

    I can totally understand the American airports when coming in from an international flight……and with me having to join the Alien line it is a whole lot of fun NOT. Who decided that Alien is what a non American should be called anyway? I was looking for the green creatures or at least an ET sighting the first time I landed on US soil. Anyway you deal with it and people from other countries do get the impression that Americans are rude and arrogant but however I doubt that there will be any changes made to the international arrivals areas of the US airports.

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