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    The Keystone State welcomes you!

    Kermit the Frog: Sam, Elton John is a very important musician.
    Sam the Eagle: Then why does he dress like a stolen car?


    I got into my hometown on Sunday night. Not fond of Hyundais, but the rental car was fine. Great playlist on the soul station, too, once I got past Bernardsville or so. Might have been made to my specifications: “Automatic.” “Brick House.” “I’m Coming Out.” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” “Raspberry Beret.” It was like being inside my own personal karaoke box. (Don’t worry. I was watching the road. Mostly.)

    Then, home. As always, the transition was…really something. Monday morning when I woke up, my parents were drinking bag tea.

    And watching Touched by an Angel .

    On the Hallmark Channel.

    I won’t give you the blow-by-blow of how I spent the week in New York with my old roommate and his wife and with assorted other college/work/gay friends. But, you will not be surprised to hear, we didn’t drink bag tea while watching Touched by an Angel on the Hallmark Channel. Not even one episode.

    Just so there’s no ambiguity here, I’m not being snide. One of the best things about America is that there’s a place (often there are several equally suitable places) for any personality. I love seeing my parents and brother, who really enjoy living here. I can certainly see why people would rather rear children here than in, oh, say, Chelsea. And, after all, where you grew up is where you grew up and has a special kind of pull. It’s just that culturally, I’ve become so…very…different…from my family that I invariably spend the first day or two back at my parents’ place slightly disoriented. Where are all the people crowding the sidewalks? Where, for that matter, are the sidewalks? What do you mean, I have to drive to get to a Starbucks? Why are you all staring (I mean, my little pink stretch sweater isn’t that tight)?

    I’m a little more settled in now, watching my little brother’s Muppet Show DVDs and planning to go for a long run this afternoon–the snow is kind of accumulating, but it should be fine, and this is a great place for running. I think I’ve gotten more reading done in the last two days than I did in Tokyo in all of December. My father’s on night shift, so we’re supposed to be going out for lunch. I assume I’ll make it through at most one quarter of my portion, as always happens when I come back to PA. And the day after tomorrow, I’m supposed to see these two weirdos, which is always a pleasure to look forward to.

    I assume Japan hasn’t fallen into the Pacific or anything. Will be back to checking the news…uh, sometime after I see whether there’s any more shoo-fly pie.

    7 Responses to “The Keystone State welcomes you!”

    1. Carolyn says:

      Glad you’re having a good trip! Japan’s still here and missing your snark. I’m tempted to ask you to bring back some shoo-fly pie so I can have a piece with my bag tea, which at least isn’t Lipton or any Japanese equivalent thereof.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Honey, I’m sure you, A., and J. are more than making up the snark deficit in my absence. (How has karaoke night been recently, BTW?) As far as the shoo-fly pie in the luggage goes, the sugar content is probably enough to keep it from spoiling on a trans-Pacific trip, so you never know–I may just slip one between my tissue-enfolded shirts.

    3. Connie says:

      The Hallmark channel even? The SHAMMMMMME.

    4. John says:

      It was good to see you in NYC.

      Funny, but the older I get, the more going home feels like “home”, and I’ve had a lot of the same cultural experiences as you. Not that I wouldn’t mind doing another stint in Tokyo, but every time I go home and walk across the neighboring Civil War battlefield in the quiet of the morning, I wonder “WTF am I still doing up in Yankeeland?”, and then the answer comes to me: “because there’s no one to employ you down here, dipstick”.

    5. Rondi says:

      When I lived overseas, I always found the culture shock returning home worse than the culture shock of moving to a new country.

    6. Sean Kinsell says:

      John, I think one issue with me is that I disliked my hometown even when I was very small and always wanted to live in the city. Nothing against semi-rural or suburban places–I’m not one of those anti-sprawl fascists or anything–but besides seeing my family, the only thing I really enjoy about going back to the Lehigh Valley is being able to drive fast down back roads. I don’t think that alone would make it worth living there.

      Rondi, that makes a lot of sense, though I have to say that returning as far as New York isn’t much of a shock. Just about anywhere else in the States is, though.

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