If I remember correctly, I was nostalgic at the beginning of the summer for Kansas and all the things that it signifies to me. I craved country music, was enthusiastic about farmwork for the first time in years, and lived in my cowboy boots. That will always be a part of me, like the bones in my body. After a steady diet of Europe for three months, however, I'm finding it difficult to convert back to my gravel road swagger and straw-chewing ways. If I were to pick up a bb gun right now, I doubt it would fit as nicely inside my arm.
My head is full of the Killers, Arctic Monkeys, and the sounds of all the musicians that I met this summer. If it weren't for my Target sandals, I'd be dressed head-to-toe in H&M almost all the time. This European style is like the tan that covers me now: I'm sure it will fade before too long, but I'll always have the ability to acquire it again.
Just as I immersed my students in English, so was I fully immersed in Europe. I drank beer and wine instead of water at dinner because that's what my host families did. Italian driving rubbed off on me (and that's all I'll say about that). When I need to make a point, I speak Italian, and when I really need to make a point, I speak Italian sign language.
I saw so much of Italy, one of the best cities in France, and my favorite place in Spain. I didn't mention this before out of fear that I would be quarantined, but I actually contracted what we believe to have been swine flu while I was probably in Nice, and I was fighting it while in Madrid (which is why I didn't seem to get very much done while I was there). It wasn't as bad as they're making it out to be here in the States- I would almost say it was milder than the flu I got a few years ago. I did, however, feel achier than I've ever felt from an illness, and flying was miserable. I can't believe I made it home- I was almost expecting to be held for a few days.
So that was how I spent my first few days back- on the couch, being served orange juice and sorbet by my mum (sorbet is the next best thing to gelato). I'm still ridiculously tired two weeks later, and now a lot of my friends are coming down with various illnesses (don't worry, I've not been contagious since I returned). Looks like I'll be acting as Mother Theresa for the next few weeks. Fortunately my time with my Italian host mothers taught me how to cook for large groups and just generally take care of (or nag, depending on how you look at it) people. I've stocked up with soup, pasta, Bomb Pops, tea, vitamin C, and grilled cheese.
Let's do this.