“People are so nice here!” my boyfriend Michal exclaims as we weave in and out of the souvenir shops adjacent to Boston’s Quincy Market. Fresh off the boat taxi from Logan Airport, I am deluded and dazed, always an easy target for early onset jet lag, but I swear Michal, a Slovak discovering America for the first time, has never looked more alive.
Michal and I flew back home a couple of weeks ago for my good friend’s wedding. All of my college friends, who I haven’t seen in years, were in attendance while many of the days leading up to the spectacular event and afterwards were spent with family, who joined us for most of our ultimate New England tour. Yup – it was wicked awesome!
In the span of two weeks, Michal and I explored historic Boston, a lot of New Hampshire, an amazing Artisan complex in Vermont, and bustling New York City. We even went “glamping” in wild and bonkers Maine, where my brother lives and works as a park manager at Rangeley Lake State Park (small but necessary plug).
Sadly, Stephen King was not home when we showed up at his house in Bangor, but super fan Michal was pumped nonetheless!
But what seemed to strike Michal the most was the small quirks that are so ingrained in American culture.
He was floored by the endless variety of cereal at Hannaford and even took a few pictures of all the eggo waffles in the freezer section.
“It’s just like Stranger Things!” he exclaimed.
People often talk about how, after an extended period away, what was once home will feel remarkably foreign. While I had forgotten about some of the idiosyncrasies that define my hometown, like the enthusiastic waves hello from unknown drives passing by, I was not shocked by this reunion with it. Instead, I felt fortunate, privileged even, to be given the opportunity to view Marlow from the perspective of an amazed Slovak discovering America for the first time.
And while other wedding guests groaned when, after the wedding ended, the shuttle that took all of us back to our accommodations turned out to be a school bus, Michal’s eyes lit up in the forested night.
“We get to ride on a school bus?! This is amazing!”
Although I do not share Michal’s enthusiasm for musty school buses (they bring back nightmares of 5:10am alarm clocks), it was refreshing to walk alongside someone with rose-colored glasses in a place I felt I had grown out of after moving to Slovakia. I only wish I had been able to acknowledge it sooner, that Marlow is in fact a place that grew with me, evermore striking in its beauty. It’s not just a reprieve from the big(ish) city life or the town my parents live in; it’s a place that has and always will be even more spectacular than the cereal aisle at Hannaford.