We had been back in Miami for about a week and were having dinner at an Outback Steakhouse with some good friends of ours. The food had been good, the conversation better. I excused myself to go to the loo. It felt weird asking for the bathroom. Maybe it's that hard 'aaa' sound in the word. It just feels obnoxious.
I walked in and my eyes for a moment rested on the hand soap. It said "English lavender". For some reason, it stopped me dead in my tracks. The moment I read the words, I was instantly taken back to a very different place. I remembered all the times I had smelled English lavender. The deep, rich color, the fat little bumblebees buzzing around. The long shady pathways along which they grew. The sweet friends who let me pick as much as I wanted from their garden.
What struck me most about the memory was the sense of quiet. Every memory I had of lavender was quiet and peaceful. I blinked and found myself back in an outback bathroom. My eyes watered a bit. I had been following routine and doing the normal Miami things but everything felt wrong and had felt wrong for a while, I just hadn't known what it was. It was the lack of overall quiet. There was music blaring, even in the bathroom. There were TV’s on the walls, in a place people purposely went to spend time together. The lights were alternately too bright and too dim and people were not keeping their voices respectfully low. There were too many lights, too many noises. I wanted to go home to my peaceful quiet England.
Back to the place where people gathered around tea to talk instead of tv to be entertained. To where the average person would never use the word "need" in relation to upgrading a smart phone. Where people purposely went outside to seek out the green and silence.
I miss the long quiet pathways and the quiet cobblestone alleys.
I miss quiet churchyards and quiet graveyards.
I miss interaction that does not revolve around noise, activity and entertainment.
But now I'm in Miami for good. Gaudy, excessive, distracted, magical Miami. And I have to figure out how to get rid of this feeling of wanting to go home.
Also, the soap didn't even smell anything like lavender. It smelled like soap.
I think you'll be happy to hear that Anthony isn't feeling any culture shock at all.