Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Living the Sweet Life

The Temporary European is finally home and settled back into NJ life. I've had some time to reflect on my life in London and the experience was definitely worth having but I do have to say there is no place like the USA. Since my return, I have been asked numerous times what it was like to live in London; that is a very hard question to answer. I find my stock answer is, "It was a great once in a lifetime experience." Beyond the rude people, crazy weather, bad showers and missing top sheet, my inability to consider ever becoming an ex-pat is hard to describe because the reasons are intangible. It is easy to describe the not so subtle differences differences, as this blog proves but the other "stuff" is nearly impossible to explain. To put it as simply as possible, beyond my obvious pining for family and friends, life in London was devoid of the American way of life -- there is something about Americans and the way we live day to day that really sets us apart. I am not saying we live in a perfect utopia but there is something about us that makes us different (in a positive way) from all other cultures. Whether it be in our major cities or our small towns, we exude a sense of connectivity that is inherently part of being an American. When meeting another American while in Europe, you exchange an easy nod that acknowledges this kinship created by the connection to the red, white and blue colors that bind us. I have always been a patriotic person but I am even more patriotic now. This is not to say that I am anti-EU, I just have a greater appreciation for being American and realize what a privilege and honor it is.
There is so much we take for granted here in the USA and I am trying to take that learning into my life and be grateful for everything I have. I think it should be mandatory for every American to live outside the USA for at least 3 months; we may do less complaining, more celebrating and have more understanding. But, as we all know, especially during these tough economic times, it's not possible for everyone to get outside of the USA and have the opportunity to look back at our mother land fondly while also experiencing what the rest of the world has to offer. I am grateful for having been blessed with that opportunity.
I made many great new friends, saw amazing places and things that will stay with me for a lifetime and I achieved a life goal by walking through the Bronte house. What more can a girl from Warren County NJ ask for? OK, I'm still asking for a published book... That's my next goal and I hope you all come along for that ride.
Thanks to all of you who read my blog faithfully and commented on my funny and not so funny experiences. I couldn't have survived the separation without all of you, my dear readers.
God Bless America and all her people!

The Forever American in Body, Soul and Philosophy

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Fine shopping, or should I say dining?

Go to any department store in London and you will find something decadent, expensive and fattening -- they are called Food Halls. No, no, I'm not talking Food Courts. Food Courts are where you find greasy pizza, limp salads and salty, hot pretzels. At Food Halls you find imported cheeses, exotic fruits, fresh seafood and catering services. It is odd though to be admiring and drooling over a Gucci bag or sniffing the intoxicating bouquet of Coco Mademoiselle Chanel and then a mere steps away find yourself drooling over puff pastries and sniffing freshly baked bread. Shopping can already be a dangerous proposition but the addition of such tantalizing goods takes it to new levels of scary. Do women really want to try on those new skinny jeans with the scent of delicious chocolates wafting through the air? Come to think of it, who wants to add the burden of dreaming about hot out-of-the oven scones when trying on a bikini? This is more dangerous than I originally thought! I wonder if this concept would work in America... I guess it could work at say Nordstrom's or Saks but honestly, I don't know if the stingy corporate folks would give up precious floor space for the likes of imported salami. I think we are safe for now but if you go to London be warned that a trip to the department still could likely result in $50 purchase of prosciutto, virgin olive oil and organic oregano and thyme. Bon appetit.