In Brazil we just hopped into the elevator and went downstairs. We lived in a smallish city of nearly 200,000 people and lived right in the heart of downtown.
Everything was nearby. Everything was convenient. We could walk to the beach, the market, the library, the movies. We could walk 100 yards to the bus stop that took us to friends’ houses, or to the resort town just an hour away, or even all the way to Rio and beyond. Nearly every time we left the apartment we ran into someone we knew. Someone would call our names, give us a kiss on each cheek, and a hug or a handshake.
Our social life was right outside the door. We would meet at the beach, the local bar, a restaurant or a friend’s home. There were always so many people nearby, we never felt isolated. It was never an inconvenience to go anywhere. There were people everywhere!
Here, especially in Houston, I can’t just hop out the door and walk to the grocery store, the pub, the beach, a friend’s house. There is no bus line near me. If I want to go anywhere, anywhere, I need to get into my car and drive, keep track of my keys, program my GPS, park somewhere and then walk (our parking lots are SO HUGE).
It’s all so far away.
It’s enormous, and spread out and full of cars. Where are all the people? Eleven million people live in this city and all I see are buildings, houses, cars.
I’m in full blown suburban reverse culture shock mode.
I’m glad we have dinner plans with friends next week. I need to spend some time in the same room with people we like. People I know who will enjoy a glass of wine and a meal while we share stories and laugh. I hope they don’t mind a hug, or the occasional hand on the arm touch. I’m feeling quite isolated here and I don’t really like it.
I miss the personal warmth of our Brazilian life where there are fewer personal boundaries, no such thing as personal space, and friends who make it their business to be in your business.
It took a lot of adjusting to accept that life when we went down there. We complained about it, but got used to it, and now that it’s gone I miss it.
Lesson learned. Be careful what you bitch about, it might just go away.