Re-entry isnâ€™t easy.Â I knew this already from watching countless re-runs of I Dream of Jeannie.Â Every time Major Nelson and Major Healey would reenter the earthâ€™s atmosphere, they were put in quarantine.Â With a raised eyebrow, skeptical Dr. Bellows would observe them through a plate glass window, as they ate, slept and played cards.Â Because, even though you look and sound â€œnormal,â€ you have to readjust.Â You could have brought back alien germs, or you might flip out from the sheer shock of familiar surroundings.Â Unfortunately, once my acclimation period was over, there was no scantily clad lady puffing out of a decoupaged 1964 Christmas edition Jim Beam liquor bottle to fulfill all of my whims and take care of my to-dos.Â Maybe I should have been an astronaut like Tony Nelson.Â Oh, hell.Â I think we just nixed the space program.Â Itâ€™s just as well though.Â I could never live on Tang and R.P.E.s for weeks on end.
Living in Florida, I can spot a tourist against a local at forty paces, with one eye shut and both arms tied behind my back.Â Every summer, throngs of strangers hog restaurant reservations, stagger around on the beaches and engage me in road chicken matches as they rubber-neck an egret or marvel at seeing a palm tree or a clump of saw grass.Â This would be more easily overlooked if they bought art instead of ÂÂÂÂÂÂboxes with scallop shells hot glued all over them.Â But my point is that the tourists stick out.Â They are obvious and out of place.Â That grates on my ever-lovinâ€™ nerves.Â I have always been more of a blend-in guy.Â Not to be confused with being absorbed into the background; blending in is looking and feeling like you belong where you are.
During my recent vacay to Berlin, I was blending in.Â And I could spot the American tourists there, too.Â It was the white socks.Â Before a shirt was lifted to reveal a money belt, before the nasal drone of â€œCan you say it in English?â€ was uttered, even before the stupefied look of bewilderment flashed across their face, I knew they werenâ€™t from around there by the white socks.Â Should I admit that I felt a bit smug, nay even a bit superior, that no one could look at my socks and know that I was just visiting?Â No self-respecting European would ever wear white socks with anything other than athletic shoes.Â Even then, there is a good chance theyâ€™ll stick with a pair of dark over-the-calf socks and some thick-soled orthopedic sandals.Â (I know that much from living in Florida!)Â But I have to wonder whether I, too, have a tell.Â Is there something that gives me away?Â And would that really be so bad?Â I mean, the truth is that when I am anywhere but here, I am a tourist.Â Maybe I should relax a bit and embrace it.Â After all, tourists are travelers, journeymen and adventurers!Â Tourists are the people who scrimp and save just so they can see a different slice of the world and expose themselves to new experiences.Â Iâ€™m all for exposing myself.
Well, I am good and reentered inFlorida, but I am certainly not anywhere near close to being settled back in.Â In fact, I am bringing some of that tourist spirit into my stateside life.Â Being inGermanythis summer ignited something in me.Â I came home feeling like I had found a place where I wanted to be both a tourist and a local.Â For the first time in a long while, my adult life came into focus and I now know what it looks like.Â I also am a realist and know that for the next while, the bulk of my life story is set against palm trees, egrets, saw grass and salt air.Â I could sulk about not being where I geographically want to be, but letâ€™s face it: sulking doesnâ€™t win any beauty pageants.Â And because I want the crown, I am going to wrap a glitzy satin sash around everything that I can.
My oldest daughter started college this week.Â My youngest is in kindergarten.Â Tracy Chapman crooned, â€œIf not now, then when?â€Â When I have more time?Â When I have more money?Â When all the kids are out of the house?Â Nope, nope and nope.Â Itâ€™s now, and itâ€™s perfect.Â I have always been progressive with my artwork, the music I listen to and the clothes I like.Â I know what works for me, what I want to be when I grow up and how it all looks.Â I have decided to shed my house like a coat that no longer fits and open up the opportunity to design a space that keeps up with me and mine.Â I have a new gallery with an aesthetic that I have built out to be everything I want it to be.Â People, this is exciting, liberating and forward moving!Â I am home and I am experiencing a new sort of wanderlust in my own backyard.Â I think Iâ€™m going to celebrate by pulling on my best white socks, a pair of sandals and making a reservation for a fancy beachside dinner.Â Care to join me?