I remember being sent an email with a list of examples of bad similes from high school papers. I felt one was unfairly included, “It was like when you’re in a different city and all the same TV shows are on, just at a different time.” Who could hate this simile?
I have always liked this feeling of everything being just slightly off. Not so out of kilter that you can’t find your bearings, but just enough that you know you’re doing something different. There is no need to learn a new language, just a few new slang terms. No need to start from scratch, just buy a few staples.
My children, however, are not fond of this feeling. We have rented a house and are spending the month in Bozeman, Montana. The kids are excited and nervous. Happy to have more of their father’s time, excited about mountains and adventures, but missing their friends. “I just want to go home to our normal TV where everything doesn’t look fake,” says my son about the gigantic HD TV in our temporary living room.
The other day, we went to a cave and slid down a rock polished in to gorgeous stone by millions of people doing that before us. Today, my son, feeling the need for something he knew he would love begged for a zoo day. So, off they went, the kids and their dad to Billings, about two hours away. That too is different.
Thanks to an unexpected change with one of my clients, for this month, the majority of the work time belongs to me. My husband, with no classes or students, will be editing his book, fitting his work around the kids’ schedule. For this month, he is in charge of meals, and so in charge of shopping and planning. None of this is unheard of in our house, we often take turns trading off work and childcare. He enjoys cooking, and I hate it. But, it isn’t the norm. It is slightly off kilter.
When I first moved to Chicago I translated everything in to terms with which I was familiar, Louisville terms. When talking about Chicago’s CTA, in my head I said, “TARC.” When someone mentioned “The Jewel” I translated that to, “Kroger’s.” And yes, when I was looking for a certain TV show, I translated the network to it’s Louisville station and the time from Eastern to Central in my head.
I’m not sure when I stopped making the translations in my head, but it was one sign that Chicago had become my home and now, for the most part, when I go back to Louisville, or travel elsewhere, I make the translations to Chicago terms and times. Except, I still use Louisville zip codes and phone numbers to make sure I have all the necessary digits of something.
That’s the thing about travel and transition, you never know which changes will hold. You never really know when you’re making a transition. You never really know what will become your new time zone. This is why I’ve ever moved my kids ever so slightly out of their time zone, out of their comfort zone. I want them to slowly learn to appreciate that things don’t always have to be exactly the same. I want them to know that they’re capable of transition and change.
So, for now, we are here in Bozeman, watching a giant TV, in a different time zone.