One of fun parts of travel is uncovering the little differences: the variety of cheeses in France or smoked fish in Iceland. But the more places you see, the fewer surprises remain– I’ll never again experience my first taste of Icelandic fish from a tube. (Or a second. Blech. Some surprises are not good.)
But recently, I got to vicariously experience my home as a totally new place by dating a foreigner. He came from the far, far away land of… a suburb 25 miles outside of Philly.
Our date began at the most normal restaurant I could find in my neighborhood (since his first suggestion had been Olive Garden, I figured we should avoid the Ethopian dive bar), where he marveled at the strange food on the menu. The next stop was an independent coffee shop. The kind with a glass case of homemade pastries, a chalkboard listing every imaginable kind of coffee and some mismatched tables and chairs. Perhaps you’re familiar with the model? He wasn’t. “I’ve never seen anything like this before!” he exclaimed.
After our coffee, we stepped outside. “Who’d have thought I’d be walking down the street in Philadelphia some night?” he marveled. Um, anyone who heard that you lived immediately outside the city, I thought. (In reality, I kept quiet, since I usually try to reserve my SDG attitude for later dates.)
His gaze turned to the sky. “I don’t know if you can imagine this,” he said. “But out where I live, you can see so many more stars. It’s beautiful.”
It was too much. I had to point out that since I had actually spent most of my life living farther out in the country than he does, I am well aware of the quantity of stars.
We had just arrived at my house, so our date ended on that awkward note. He went off to search for a girl who can better share his sense of wonder, while I went inside to draft cynical blog posts and add “dislikes Olive Garden” to my list of must-haves.