How Did It Come To This?

In two ways really.  One: how did it come to me buying out the entire selection of refried beans, chillies, and enchilada sauce in two grocery stores - one of which was the equivalent of a Mexican Costco?

And Two: How did it come to be moving day already!

I sit on my bed, my last island of "stuff not to pack" as clearly marked by a yellow sticky, and write this as three very nice men pack my 60+ cans of refried beans and 13 bottles of chili powder. What can I say, we are from Utah and we eat Mexican food. Moroccans, as I understand, do not.

I don't quite feel nostalgic for America yet as we still have one week in DC and another in Utah, but I am feeling a bit nervous that I have let my second set of keys and my parking pass be packed up on accident... But if that's the worse thing to happen, I think I can manage.

Actually, that's not entirely true about nostalgia. We saw Rango last week and as a girl who comes from some serious farmer/pioneer heritage it made me start idealizing "The West" and my memories of spending time with my Grandparent's on what used to be the farm on which my mother grew up.  It's funny because among my relatives who still live there my siblings and I are often referred to as "city kids", which has really made me laugh as I contemplate cocktail parties where I have nothing to say and dinner parties where I use the wrong fork.  I always feel like a country bumpkin when I travel, but as my travel mentor Rick Steves says - that's not a bad thing. We bumpkins are good at stumbling onto lovely things and asking questions others might be embarrassed to ask. Our understood and accepted lack of culture makes us eager and thoughtful travelers.

But back to "The West".  When we were in Jordan I started getting an idea of things that were "Jordanian" or what was "Arab" and I wondered what things were seen as "American". There are obvious things like Hollywood and Americata (what my Italian mom Rita says Italians call bang, bang, fast paced American movies) and for the most part, the type of values we hope to project into the world: ingenuity, hard work, creativity, the ability to make it from nothing - American Dream type stuff.  I also came to realize that "The West" is pretty central to people's idea of America.  I found it was pretty common for Western things and even Mexican things to represent the whole of America in billboards, TV ads and restaurants- like when I when to "Reel Mexican Fud" in Dhahiyat Al-Rasheed, Amman for what I hoped would be an enchilada and was served a hamburger with fries.  One's pretty much the same as the other, right?  I certainly didn't see any deep dish pizza chains or philly cheesesteak joints.  America didn't even have a "West" for a long time, but something about the gun-slingin', lone-ridin' cowboy must have really captured the world's imagination.

It seems my nostalgia follows suit.  When I start longing for home, I don't think of my regular old apartment in DC or driving my car home from college through the snow, I think of getting scooped up by my grandpa's giant tractor shovel and carried through the air or husking corn in grandma's front yard and storing the corn worms in a jar to scare her with later.  

Or Disneyland.  Somehow that sneaks in there pretty regularly too.      

By the by, if you aren't from the West and want to feel what I'm talking about - you should read "All the Pretty Horses" by Cormac Mcarthy or any of his Border Trilogy.  They are superb.


  1. I feel like there are a lot of things I want to say about this post, but I'm just going to say the first two that I thought:

    1. Good on you for buying up your Mexican groceries. We finally made it to Edinburgh this week to go to the only Mexican shop I know of to buy chipotle powder and enchilada sauce and, exotic!, canned green chiles. I'm so excited to make enchiladas this week!

    2. Hope the transition to Morocco goes smoothly and I can't wait to hear new stories from abroad. Good luck!

  2. Great post. Reminded me of the days I spent on my grandparents farm. So excited to see you and Max when you come into town.

    I'm now officially on the waiting list at the library for that Cormac Mcarthy book. Even though he scared me stupid with The Road. I'll give him another go...

  3. I can't believe you guys are leaving already!!