When I joined the Army and came to Europe back in 1998, I'd pretty had much had enough of most American culture. I say "most" because there were certainly many things that I knew I would miss. I knew I would miss watching the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins for sure (Celtics...not so much). I knew I would miss the Sunday Boston Globe sports section. But I was thirsting for adventure and something new and I certainly found it in Europe. I so enjoyed experiencing new cultures and learning a new lifestyle that I didn't really miss the things in the US that, at one time in my life, I didn't think I could live without.
Here I am back in the US for only about the 4th time since I came to Europe almost 10 years ago. And I gotta tell you, since I got off the plane it has felt like I'm in a foreign country. Even in the airport in Chicago, I was in a shop and it was really weird hearing everyone speaking English. I guess I've grown accustomed to everyone around me speaking a foreign language. I also laughed at the fact that there were a bunch of college students on my flight back to the US who had been on a 2 week tour of Germany and the first thing they did when we landed in Chicago was go to McDonalds. God bless America.
So anyway, I've been here about 4 or 5 days and in that time I've really come to feel like a foreigner. So many things seem weird to me. Even things which used to be an everyday part of life now seem foreign. I remember years ago, it was quite enjoyable to eat at a place like Applebee's Neighborhood Bar and Grill and have a few beers. The other night we had dinner there and the food was average at best. It struck me how little I enjoyed the experience compared to 10 years ago. Tonight I got hung up late in my hotel room following the Red Sox game online so rather than go out for dinner I decided to be a bit nostalgic and do something I haven't done in over 10 years; order a pizza. I was quite surprised to find that some pizza places actually take orders online now. You log onto their website, put in your zip code and place your order. Seemed a bit impersonal but I thought, "I have GOT to try this...". I started to do an online order with Dominoes but alas, you have to sign up for an account with all kinds of personal information and I really just wanted a pizza delivered to my hotel room so I opted for the comparitively antiquated system of phoning my order in. I was really hungry and I figured Dominoes was my best option since they had the 30 minute guarantee. So imagine my chagrin when the guy told me my pizza would be there in 40 minutes. 40 minutes?! What the hell happened to "30 minutes or less, guaranteed"?! I really have been gone too long.
Fortunately some things never change. I stopped at the shoppette on base on the way home tonight to pick up a six pack. To my great and pleasant surprise, they had about 7 or 8 different kinds of Sam Adams brews. Sam Adams was my beer of choice before I left for Europe and it's one of the things I've been forced to live without. I wanted to buy all of them for old time's sake but I settled on the Cherry Wheat (this being summer and all) and a sixer of my favorite - Cream Stout. I'm drinking the Cherry Wheat tonight with my pizza but I'm so anxious to open the Cream Stout that I'm practically quivering in anticipation...