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Where is the FREAKING soap?! Where is it? Why can these people not arrange these aisles more sensibly? Where is a store employee when you need one? Is this what you call American customer service? I wish I was back in India where you just tell the storekeeper what you need and he brings it out from the back!
Oh my gosh – am I losing it in this store? Am I going to meltdown right here?
Just leave the soap. Take your other stuff and check out.
No, no. Turn back. You need soap – what are you going to do: not shower? Just read the signs above the aisle, look for soap. I don’t see soap on those signs. Why don’t they list soap?
Are you SERIOUSLY crying right now? Why are you crying? This is not okay. Just find the soap and get out of here. What is your problem?

Thus runs my inner monologue these days. In the middle of a nice, big, clean, organized grocery store I stand, quietly having a meltdown. Wondering if I’m about to crack along the fault lines of re-entry and culture, stress and anxiety. I can’t say I wasn’t warned – over and over and over. But it’s one thing to be told and therefore know that something is going to be difficult, stressful, fantastic. It’s completely something else to experience and therefore know it.

I wanted to journal and blog through re-entering American culture… to have the ability to reduce experience to a nice set of bullet points, three well-reasoned 500 word posts a week. To capture in words and possibly a few pictures the unfettered joy of being with loved ones again after a long absence, the confusion of cultures crossed once again.

But, alas, my trusty set of words has abandoned me. Powers of explanation and writing have failed me. I find myself having wordless, descriptionless meltdowns in stores because I cannot find the soap. Which, after all, can only be within the three aisle radius in front of me.

In this cage that is personal experience – it’s comforting to know there are people nearby. People who understand – or are at least willing to listen. To let me grieve something they’ve been dealing with for a year now. To open doors and wait patiently for me to stumble through. To keep calm and carry on, as the British slogan says, waiting for me to stop having a meltdown long enough to ask where the soap is.

That’s what’s been happening with me lately! What’s up with you? When was the last time you experienced something too overwhelming to put into words?

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