Although I’ve lived in Madison for quite a few months, I still manage to embarrass myself at least daily.
For example, the other day I took a taxi to meet a friend at a bookstore and stayed in the car an extra five minutes because I thought we were stuck in traffic. In fact, we had arrived, and I was just sitting there making the cab driver feel awkward. (There is no traffic in Madison.)
Finally, he asked me if I’d ever “been here before,” and I was like, “Oh, I moved here in September. It’s been really nice!”
“Cool, but um, I meant the bookstore.”
“Oh! We’re here?! So fast?!” and then I mumbled something about traffic as I tried to exit gracefully.
I’m still ready to strategize and compete for everything, so I end up arriving way too early to events to “make sure I get a seat.” (There are always plenty of seats.)
I didn’t think I was that accustomed to public anonymity, but I jump every time I hear someone yell out my name in public despite the fact that I know there is a 0% chance I won’t run into someone I know anytime I leave my house. This one’s particularly embarrassing because I’m trying to make new friends, and I’d rather not be known as the paranoid jumpy one. (I am definitely the paranoid jumpy one.)
The weirdest thing is that sometimes I don’t understand people’s Midwestern accents. There is no good reason for this because Devin is from Wisconsin. I know lots of people from Wisconsin. I have been to Wisconsin like a hundred times. Still, I end up overpaying for things at coffee shops and stuff because I don’t understand what the cashiers are saying when they tell me the total. Related: I still carry cash everywhere because I expect places to be CASH ONLY. (Nowhere is cash-only.)
If all of this sounds ridiculous to you, imagine how you’d feel if it were you! I moved a fourteen-hour drive away from my last home, in the same country, to a state I’m very familiar with, to a small city that is very easy to navigate, but I still get lost and feel supremely dumb on the regular. It’s peak pathetic, and I am ashamed.
Still, I remember how much I hated living in New York for the first six months. Everything was so hard! We couldn’t find a couch that would fit through our front door! There was so much litter! Once, on a particularly rough day, I remember saying to Devin, “It’s like Earth Day never happened here.” I may have been crying while I said it? Then, on my six-month anniversary, it was like a switch flipped. Suddenly, I understood New York, and I started to like it more and more until I felt like I belonged.
Devin and I went back to visit earlier this month, and on our way to the best Thai restaurant in North America (SriPraPhai, go now if you’re lucky enough to be close to it!), we passed the sign that most symbolizes the city for me. (I even blogged about it once.)
It has almost been six months since I moved to Madison. I wonder what my sign will be here.