Archive for October, 2010

Culture Shock Brewing-Dreams of a Departing Expat…

Friday, October 15th, 2010

This time next week I’ll already be in mid flight, headed to the U.S. Starting our new lives there. Thank God!

Recently I’ve been having strange dreams. Please read on:

For some reason we were (I think) already in the US. Marek, I and his mom were invited to some Radonsky relative’s house. From the outside it looked like my old house where I used to live in Colorado. Green grassy trimmed front yard, with a stony side yard surrounded by a thick wooden fence,which doesn’t even allow one a sneak peek into the back yard.

A relative opened the door, greeting us with “Nazdars” (Howdys).  I didn’t greet back as I peered past them reaching into the house. I was in shock. All the floors were covered in dust, lint and just crap that gets stuck to the bottom of your feet. Everybody was busy “taking off their shoes” and pulling out their “pantofle” (slippers). Within seconds I quickly recalled how Marek’s mom warned me as we walked up to the door that I needed to bring my own pantofle, because they don’t provide any. I thought…hrmm..just a little too late. Because of the condition of the uncleaned floor, I decided to leave my sneakers (yes, that is so American and strangely I only wear them to the gym) on. In the flurry of it all, nobody noticed either. We got a tour of the place and each room was just as messy as the floor. With each boring room, light polite chatter dabbled with sugared fake laughs filled the air. I don’t know what was being said, I didn’t understand and/or I was too mesmerized by the whopping mess growing around me.

Finally we were all situated around the dinner table, where one of the relatives finally noticed that I was still wearing my pristine “outdoor shoes”. They asked in Czenglish, “Why didn’t you zout (take off) your shoes?” I was paralyzed, stunned and speechless. I searched for something to say. My eyes darted around the room, catching each piece of dirt and lint I could find. I created an invisible connect the dot (dirt), to illustrated why it wasn’t necessary. Nervously the only thing I thought of to say, “Well, I didn’t think we had too.”  One of them pointed “out”, towards the direction where I am supposed to go back and take off my shoes. I felt like a dog, sunken with my tail pinned between my legs. I went back to the room with the clatter of shoes and slowly took each one off, one-by-one, slowing down time so I didn’t have to return. I cursed myself for wearing my gym white socks. Immediately with first contact with the floor my right foot turned a light gray. With each step back I’d stir up the dirt more and it would swirl around like little dust devils which are trapped in street corners.

I’m not sure exactly what else happened…except they kept giving me unsolicited advice. I sat there taking it, without word, battle or utter mumble.

We made it to Saturday morning, where I met Marek’s mom in the upstairs hallway outside the WC (there was a WC sign on the bathroom door) before breakfast and told her in Czech, “I can’t do this anymore…..I really need to get out of here!”

She told me (also in Czech),”Hold on, just hold on.” And padded me on the back.