This is the post where I talk about the culture shock of re-entering the US and all of it’s excesses. Cliche? Perhaps. Necessary? Absolutely.

Our last night in Haiti, we had a great time with Keanan. He was used to us, and playful and fun. We tried to make our goodbyes casual, so we didn’t freak him out with an ugly crying scene. I was unsuccessful with this, but I tried. Our flights were on schedule (yay), and India, the plane-puking wonder, only threw up twice. Props to my husband for his amazing vomit-diversion techniques involving a blanket and the seat-back tray.

We arrived in LAX and immediately we were bombarded with the “scene” that is Los Angeles. We had a celebrity sighting in baggage claim, and I immediately felt insecure in my missionary skirt, crocs, and greasy hair. Okay, the celebrity sighting was Joel McHale, who I adore. Next to John Stewart, he is the Celebrity I Would Most Like To Marry If Widowed. Mark is aware of this plan and approves. He is cute, funny, self-effacing, and sarcastic. What’s not to love? Anyways, I would like to think that my metamorphisis from strong, confident, mission-minded mom to shallow, insecure, celebrity-smitten parasite was only because of Joel’s presence. I would like to think that. Sure.

In our way home from the airport, we stopped at the grocery store. I was overwhelmed, to say the least, with the reality of the choice, quality, affordibility, and accessibility of food items we have in the states. I kept saying to Mark, “Look at all this food. LOOK AT ALL THIS FOOD!” I felt like a complete and total glutton, loading food into our cart.

When we walked into our house, I was struck with how nice our house is. We don’t live in a huge house by any means, but by Haitian standards, it is huge. And it seemed so clean. Mark and I commented about how many times we complain about our house and the little things that don’t work. The baseboard seam that doesn’t line up. The outdated kitchen faucet. The kitchen door that sticks. All of these things seem so minor and petty right now.

But the question that pesters me today, as I write this post, is: How long will this appreciation last? I mean, I’ve been through this before. Trips to Mexico, Africa, India . . . where I’ve come home and vowed to sustain my perspective and live a simpler, nobler existence. Inspired to create meaning, stop taking things for granted, avoid materialism. We’ve been here before. And then a couple weeks pass and I slip into my Keep Up Appearances, Keep Up With the Joneses ways.

I don’t have the answer today. It’s troubling, this duality, this desire to “rise above” that competes with the excesss that surrounds me. I’d like to think that it’s just because I live in the OC, the mecca of consumerism. Sure. I’d like to think that.