Life here is starting to feel like it's home. All it took was several trips from the house to various destinations - the mall where I work, the library down the road, the other mall that has Barnes & Noble - all these can be summed in one word. Familiarity.
I've been living in Tallahassee since September 25th and I must say that the one thing that has made my transition so much more... soothing, is having my friends walk me through the littlest of things! Fiercely independent me has been reduced to an ignorant, naive, dim-witted shell of a human.
Dishwashers amaze me despite the fact that I lived with and used them as a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest; dryers are the best but must have lint removed after a load for fear of a fire hazard; ovens cannot have any cardboard or paper bags left in them for the same reason; wrinkle-free clothing is always the better choice; leftovers are self-boxed after meals at restaurants. My list of newnesses keeps growing.
And that's just the daily reality. We haven't gotten to the part wherein insurance is a must both for health and for driving. Apartments can be rented on a month to month basis and only require a minimal security deposit. And that cars can be bought from a Used Car dealer for as little as $ 100 per month. Credit is good. It allows you to have more credit so you can buy bigger things on credit.
Michael and Janet patiently explain and teach me like I'm their eight year old daughter. "You cannot leave a box inside the oven, especially when I have the gaslight on. It could start a fire," Janet said as she removed the Krispy Kreme box I placed inside before she made fudge brownies.
I am learning much not only about my surroundings, but about myself. And as I look in the mirror at the woman who knows practically nothing about the US she grew up in as a child, I am humbled by my new perspective. Language is another new thing to me.
What I thought was an America that spoke English has evolved into a nation that oftentimes feels like its official languages are both English and Spanish. It's almost everywhere! Signs, pamphlets, instructions, etc. I regret slacking off in my Spanish classes in college. It's a challenge communicating with my fellow housekeepers (aka janitors) at the mall.
Me: So what time are you going on break?
Colleague: (blank stare)
Me: Ummm. (motioning hands to mouth while chewing) Lunch?
Colleague: Ala dos y medya.
I'm learning that sign language, my rudimentary Spanish and my big smiles make it easier. They're hardworkers and easy to get along with. And with so many similarities with Pilipino, my Spanish is getting better!
But my biggest gauge for knowing I'm settling in, is the fact that I don't cry as often and that I don't feel as overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity as before. I still have moments wherein I'll suddenly miss my daughter but it's gotten much easier since I started working.
I do miss Manila though. Now, I fully understand Hotdog's song "Manila". You never really do know what you have until it's gone. Or you've left it.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement! God has been so gracious and merciful to me. I have an interview on Monday for a desk job and an exam for a federal job at the airport later this week. I also handed in my application at clothing stores for the upcoming seasonal openings. There's no such thing as 13th month pay here or Christmas bonus, so people take on extra work for a little more cash for the holidays.
My Target Red Card and my checkbooks arrived in the mail! Yay. I promise to use both sparingly.