After six or seven years away, going to America is scary and exciting.
I’ve been away long enough now that it feels exotic, like I’m going to Brazil or China.
I’m going to cities I don’t know.
For example, Los Angeles. Did you know 17 million people live there? I just can’t get my head around a number like that. There are only 4 million people in my whole country.
And Dallas? I’ve never even been to Texas.
I expect I will make a lot of mistakes.
I will need to remember to tip the waitress. And lock the door.
Will people understand me? I now have a peculiar accent, and I mispronounce all sorts of words, like garage and tomato.
Sometimes I even use different words, like boot for trunk. I call people, admittedly mostly children, mate. And I have a strange habit of ending almost every sentence with eh?
Never mind. It will be a relief to be home. I’ve never really stopped thinking of it as home. It’s where I’m from and my point of reference. For everything.
It will be nice not to be identified by my nationality. Which is my distinguishing characteristic in New Zealand.
And a comfort not to hear things like, “Oh, Halloween? We don’t do that. It’s too American.”
I’m looking forward to driving on the right side of the road. And not wiping the windshield when I want to be indicating a turn.
The baffling morning tea, afternoon tea, tea and supper will be replaced by the more familiar breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I’m sure I will be as impressed as any foreigner with shopping malls and wireless hot spots and the sheer size of the continental United States.
I know I will be mesmerized by our big, brash, earnest country, and hopefully I’ll be just a tiny bit proud of it too.