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You Actually Can Go Home Again

I’m sitting in Seattle on a cold rainy day. Seattle is a long way from London, practically and culturally, but the weather is not dissimilar. To be fair, however, since arriving in Seattle two weeks ago, we’ve only had three days of rain. The rest has been beautifully sunny. I left the United States in 1987 and now I’m back.

I had an uneventful flight from London, for which I thanked all the gods human beings have either discovered or created, depending on your point of view. It was the smoothest flight I've had in years. Out of nine and a half hours, maybe two or three minutes of gentle turbulence. Unfortunately, when I got through the airport high tech security system, my wife, Roberta, was nowhere to be seen. I couldn't get her on her cell (see how I stopped using the word mobile there - adjusting already) because having a UK phone I had to call as if I were in the UK. I kept putting 011 instead of 001 in front of her number. Dah!

Welcome to SeattleSo, having returned to Gunland to live where a good number of regional and national leaders think the law should be based on and grounded in their particular interpretation of their particular sacred text (I really need to stop saying things like that now) I was stranded in an airport. I did have a plan, however. If after two hours Roberta didn’t appear, I was going to let my little boy surface, sit in the middle of the floor and cry hysterically. I realized (see how I used the American spelling there) a couple of minutes after hatching this plan, that it might make more sense to have her paged, which I did. She appeared within 60 seconds. 40 minutes later we were being greeted by a nice woman who owns the small apartment we’re renting on Lake Washington with a great view of Mercer Island and Mount Rainier with what turned out to be a nice bottle of red wine.

So I’m back in the United States of America after almost 30 years away. I have concerns about this place I call Gunland: the evening news is either utter banality or rightwing propaganda; the place is governed by anti-enlightenment religious nuts; not understanding the meaning of socialism most Americans are offended by the idea of providing healthcare for human beings; the majority of people believe in angels but not evolution. I could go on, of course, but something even more disturbing has happened. Something I feared even before leaving Heathrow. I can't find my favorite shampoo.

After their morning ablutions, most people like leaving the house smelling like a piece of fruit, say a lemon. My dad, for example, always smelled like a lemon. Lemon shampoo, soap, deodorant. Or maybe a combination of fruits - mango and strawberry, say. Or if fruit is not their thing, they might go for coconut or mint. I hate this about myself, but I hate smelling like a fruit tree all day. In the UK I used products made by the company Simple. No scent anywhere. Perfect! But I despair because here, no Simple. What's a real man to do? I’m not sure, but definitely not mint. Maybe I should go for mango.

And this is it. I’m confronted with the very big and the very small as I transition back into American culture. Because I’ve been away so long my credit rating in the US is abysmal and I can’t find my preferred bar of soap. It’s extremely difficult to get mortgage approval and I’m in desperate need of a haircut. Given the relationship between social security and Medicare I can’t even begin to think of healthcare until my social security appointment on April 7th and can’t find my favorite concoction for heartburn. I went into a bank affiliated with one of my banks in the UK to ask, given that I had been a good and responsible customer with its affiliate, if I could get a credit card and a young man, maybe 30, said without hesitation, no, that my finances is the UK have no relevance, leaving me feeling like a foolish child for even asking, and I have to remember to spell American. The big and the little. Oddly, and I think this is true, I find both equally stressful.

SeattleI have to say, however, that since arriving in America my spam folder has been more interesting than it was in the UK. I’ve received more than a few emails from woman who want to make contact with me, to chat. It seems they are single, often having just gone through a difficult break up, and would love to chat. Obviously, and to my slight surprise, my excellent pastoral skills are known far and wide. So you can understand that I feel a little guilty when I say I just delete their messages instead of helping them, with a chat. But quite frankly, I’ve just got too much on my plate right now.

Slightly more interesting is the email notifying me of my court date. The subject line: “DALE, Notice to appear in Court #0000992990”. The message begins, Dear Dale, and explains that I am to appear in court on March 16th and that all the details of my case can be obtained by opening the attachment. Since I read this on March 18th and it began Dear Dale and not Dear Mr. Rominger, I’ve decided to let it pass. Still, getting arrested in the next couple of days would not be out of line with the American welcome I have received thus far.

Finally, I received a message from FedEx saying they couldn’t send my package but if I opened the attachment and printed the labels all would be well. Since I have never asked FedEx to do anything for me, I hit delete.

Yes, with all due respect to Thomas Wolfe, you can go home, but the welcome may be less than inspiring.

My next posting might be from the big house where I may be serving twenty to life.

Copyright © 2015 Dale Rominger

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