Life has led me to travel abroad alone several times. Like jumping into the deep, freezing end of a pool, getting off that plane in a land where no one is known to you, everything is written and explained in a language you don’t understand and things are recognizable, yet so incredibly different can be quite overwhelming.
Like the pool, it’s only a matter of time before you adjust to and enjoy what now surrounds you. But the initial experience is nothing short of jolting.
Looking through scads of travel photos, I recognized a pattern I wasn’t previously aware of. Apparently, I have a typical first meal in a foreign land:
And since I rarely visit McDonald’s while here in the States, and know many foreigners who make fun of the “hamburger eating Americans”, I can only imagine that the stress of converting cash, trying to find transportation or navigate subways, lugging luggage, keeping aware of one’s surroundings and inevitably getting lost (as I always seem to) overwhelms us to the point that we need the comforts of our home.
For me, it’s the comforts of my childhood. For this is what I often ate for breakfast when I was little and, apparently, ordering food is just one “foreign” thing too many for my plate.
I can also recall the discomfort and emptiness I felt, each of these times, when I realized that I can do nothing to order “pancakes” or “hash browns” besides point at the picture on the menu board. The illusion of home and the temporary peace I felt when I walked through the doors of those McDonald’s, were comfortable bubbles burst, as I was left fumbling through my cash trying to figure out how to pay.