Sunday, February 3, 2013

While we were gone

Expatriates hear enough about the surprising difficulties in re-acclimating to their home country upon return, to know to be weary of repatriation. Our reentry has not been without difficulty; however my most comical challenge may have occurred this weekend.
Over twenty years ago there was a television show set in and named after a fictional town in Washington, Twin Peaks. The plot followed an investigation headed by an FBI Agent into the murder of a homecoming queen. Filmed in the Washington towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend, I remember the show well, not only because I later visited the famous Snoqualmie Falls in that area, but because the creator of the show, David Lynch, had an art exhibition in Clermont-Ferrand last year (the town in France we were living in at the time).
On Saturday evening after spending the day reconstructing a playground set (a story for another day), we headed to a local sushi joint for happy hour half-price sushi. Upon arrival we found a line out the door with happy hour about to be over, and so we rerouted to the closest restaurant I could think of, one that opened while we were abroad and seemed to embody the mountain/outdoors similar to that television show from way back.

Opening credits to Twin Peaks, source here
My local friends might see where I’m going with this; it was complete culture shock to enter and realize I had just convinced my husband to take the boys and me to a restaurant of “scenic views.” For those friends abroad (or anyone obviously not in the loop such as myself), the scenery consists of wait staff dressed like this:

Source here
I can laugh about it now, however I was mortified throughout dinner, especially when asked if I wanted my beer in a “girly” size or a “man’s” size. My discomfort was probably due more to my embarrassment than to the girl’s outfits, but then I have to ask did we become desensitized in France, as what I may consider risqué was commonplace there? Thankfully we were not the only family there, nor was I the only female diner, and the food was surprisingly good. I especially enjoyed the apple turnovers, which were beignet-like with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a side of caramel for dipping. But I’m getting off topic thinking of dessert!
This somewhat surprising side-effect to expatriation, the realization that things changed while we were gone, to the extent that I unknowingly walked into a chain restaurant based on “eats, drinks and scenic views,” this is something that I’m reminded of everyday. We’ve returned to a different place than we left, and although there are the things that stay the same (such as a great Superbowl, it was SO much fun watching the game with the boys tonight), there are the things that change and continue to change. Not just restaurants, but people. New additions to families, the loss of loved ones, babies born and weddings celebrated. Our time abroad, however brief it may feel, has irrevocably changed us as surely as our surroundings. We are better for the experience, of that I am sure – stronger, more able to deal with adversity and the unexpected. I’m pretty sure I will not be returning to Twin Peaks, but I can say I was able to enjoy my dinner and even order dessert.

Twin Peaks on Urbanspoon


  1. How funny, I hope you had the man sized beer?! I agree about the strength found in dealing with 10 year old happily admits he can do anything having lived through French school! Rx

  2. That is too funny. The joys that await when we go home.

  3. HAHAHAHAH! Cenšos iedomāties tavu sejas izteiksmi! :)


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