Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock

First Impressions Back in the US

by David Miller May 31, 2011
After more than a year and a half living in Patagonia, David Miller returned to the Southern US. Here are his first impressions after a 24 hr sleepless bus ride, followed by a 10 hr sleepless flight.

ATLANTA. MEMORIAL DAY, 2011. Gate B33 in Hartsfield International waiting on the 8:30 connecting flight to Sarasota. Everything sort of glowing in low-angle dawn light from B terminal’s eastern-facing floor to ceiling windows. Silhouettes of aircraft taxiing, landing, taking off.

A Starbucks Grande coffee buzz starting to counteract the 24+ hrs sleepless delirium (which peaked about 4 hours earlier, approximately 4:00 am on Delta’s 110 from Buenos Aires while viewing / listening to, somewhat nauseatingly, Little Fockers, via semi-functioning headset.)

Now this loop of HLN Network’s Memorial Day coverage playing on a ceiling-mounted flatscreen. Something about the Casey murder trial. It’s the first minute post immigrations / customs / security screening / baggage recheck that’s allowed for a sense of actual arrival. A middle aged black woman with an airport staff uniform watching the screen, saying to a young black man, overweight, also uniformed, “oh she got herself inna whole heap a trouble.” Her accent activating positive emotions.

Minutes earlier the white people in Starbucks really enunciating their orders. One guy brandishing some kind of Starbucks card. This sense of my fellow white Americans seeming so efficacious, or desirous of efficacy, or something.

Approximately 80% of people with potbellies, regardless of race / sex. The other 15% evidencing significant gym-time, with maybe 5% just straight up ectomorphic. Like this lack of just normal-looking non-potbellied bodies such as those populating Argentina.

Remembering now from the in-flight entertainment /delirium, this show Molly and something featuring obese protagonists.

My blood pressure lowering now after spiking through the last hour’s immigration / security processing. Always this sense in the US that I’m doing or have done something wrong. This constant but mostly hidden worry that seems part of the “efficaciousness” or whatever that makes other white people from the US immediately identifiable to me worldwide.

The HLN loop now showing stainless steel tongs flipping definitely non-homemade patties / wieners with an overlaid graphic about the cost difference between 2010 and 11 grillables. All of the 8-10 pairs of adult eyes in B33 looking up at the screen. The screen as this kind of presence there in B gate. Micael not asleep but just kind of subdued in Lau’s arms. Layla playing with one of her dolls on the floor. All of us kind of collapsed there in this nest of non-stained, non-broken, blue-fabric’d chairs. Nobody trying to smile / fawn over Micael like the Argentinos (the middle aged-black woman did slightly). People keeping their eyes contained within whatever groups and / or vectors are necessary for communication. One white woman, late 30s, scowling at the monitor. She has an identical haircut to Tony Hawk circa 1986, when I was elementary school age, skateboarding Marietta neighborhood gutters and hills 30 miles north of here.

Lau and I watching people de-plane now in B33. I tell her it feels good to be back in the South. That I’m not sure why. Layla draining the last sips – her plastic cup tilted up over her head – of her first ever Starbucks iced tea.

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