Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Culture shock

Today I feel transplanted. Like I'm hiding out—or trapped—in my own house. Like the city is a desert sprawling around me. Like there is no where for me to go if I were to venture out of the house. Or that if there were somewhere for me to go that I wouldn't be able to get there anyway.

Everything seems to be fifteen minutes away. The thought of driving that far makes my hands clammy, makes my stomach churn, makes my throat seize up and my mouth to salivate as if my body can't decide whether I'm going to cry or throw up. And, allow me to point out, it's midnight.

I'm not about to go anywhere.

I'm just thinking about maybe sometime driving somewhere—anywhere—at some future time.

The doctor. The orthodontist. The library. The church. The school. The park.

Tomorrow? Next week? Next month?

It doesn't matter where. It doesn't matter when. It doesn't even matter that it's entirely hypothetical.


Probably I'm making things worse by not driving anywhere (I have driven once so far) but, you guys, the traffic here is terrifying. It never runs out.

The traffic doesn't run out and the city doesn't run out. Cars are constantly zipping along, confidently changing lanes, or merging into a never-ending stream of other cars, and I don't have that sort of bravery. And the city just keeps going. Sometimes I think for sure we've hit the outskirts of town. But I'm not sure there even are outskirts anymore. There's nothing but endless city.

Of course I know that's not true, but it currently feels rather stifling. Even though we had to interrupt our family night so we could run to the window to stare at the baby fawn who stumbled onto our driveway (it was so cute) which means we're clearly not stuck in some urban hellscape—we live in a beautiful place—it's stifling.

It's just culture shock (and it will get better, I'm sure).

I've lived in big places before, though once when we were talking to a friend of ours in Washington state about perhaps moving to the area (Andrew had applied for a job there, I'm sure—because where didn't he apply?) I was scoffed at. Because this person didn't seem to think I hack it as an urbanite.

"I've lived in big places before," I told them (and myself).

But maybe they were right because this is all rather intimidating.

Still, I've lived in big places before.

Atlanta's metro population, of which we're a part, is 5,949,951.

Cairo's is easily three times that number: 19,500,000. And I lived there. And rode the metro. And went grocery shopping. And to the doctor. And out sight-seeing. was fine.

This will be fine, too.

Of course, taxis were cheaper and easier to hail in Cairo and I never (not once) considered driving there...

But still. If I could figure things out there, I can figure things out here. It will just take some time (and some deep breathing). 


  1. I agree very much with your last paragraph and I am cheering for you! I hope it's like when you were settling into your house and every bump and creak seemed scary until you got used to it. You can do this! You will get used to it!

  2. For some reason I pictured Peachtree Corners as a quiet suburb where you could escape the heavy traffic - and where you lived 5 or 10 minutes from your favorite store, church, and library. I'm sorry this is not the case, but I know you will get used to it eventually. And soon you'll be a pro at zipping through traffic just like the rest of them. Here's to less-stifling days!

  3. Drive, drive, drive. Every day just a little bit. Don't even let Andrew drive for you when he is around. This kind of anxiety only gets better as you desensitize. The only way to do that is to do it. I'm so sorry you are going through this but I know you can do it. Drive, drive, drive!