Culture Lag

Culture Lag

posted in: Cruising Life | 4

So a lot has happened.  Our good readers should be comforted by the fact that the Burnetts have continued their peripatetic life so far on land. A two-day drive up to Missouri from Florida in the Burnett Family Truckster was followed by a drop-off of children with grandparents (representing the first time Mel and Greg were separated from their kids for more than a day in over a year!) and then a quick flight to the North Shore of Chicago, where Mel had job interviews.  There they faced the stark contrast of the silence and beauty of clear blue ocean water with the perceived white noise of miles and miles of brick houses with minor variations in misguided stone and vinyl siding adornments spaced just 5 feet apart, stretching for miles in a massive suburbia conglomerate.  We have mixed pride and acceptance now — we are in the John Hughes land of Pretty in Pink!  Restaurants promising large portions of (let’s admit it! – delicious!) food bursting with spice, salt, and sugar were located just steps from each other, and we drove by carefully-planned parks with bike trails which attempted to protect the vulnerable Democrat environmentalist exerciser from the onslaught of greenhousing Republican automotives buzzing by at top speed because gas was less than $2.00 a gallon.  Love America!

Mel found herself, previously a person with laser-sharp focus, staring at the corners of the ceiling of an  ?art noveau? restaurant, thinking of nothing, just so she could have some peace.

As one can imagine, the Type-A Mel was very, uh, verklempt, about all of this before Greg once again pointed out the obvious: we were suffering not from ‘jet lag’, but: ‘culture lag.’  Let’s give ourselves a break!  America is just so…INTENSE!  The hours of peace staring at the clear water surrounded by folks who thought ordering a part once a day was a major accomplishment has been replaced by the constant white-noise chatter of necessarily-rapid internal ruminations on our future and external conversations overheard in public that make Mel and Greg look at each other and smuggle out a laugh.  Overheard as we ate green chicken curry at a Thai restaurant recently, as we have not had good Thai food until we returned to the US:

Young, pretty woman: “I am reading a book about how to make the most of your twenties.”

Older woman, probably an aunt of her bearded millennial fiancé: ”Oh, did your Mom make you read that?”

These are words we have not heard in a long, long time.

Mel recalls from neuroscience that pregnant women’s brains fill with lipids before the baby is born, only to disperse after childbirth, leaving the brain remodeled to handle the multitasking that raising a newborn demands.  Oh, plasticity!  Mel claims she felt this happening with the birth of her first child during her internship, which left her delightfully able to multitask better, and she feels that same holocephalic (that means all-over-the-head for you laypeople) tingling now.  After two years of wandering from home, her brain is remodeling.  She can feel it.  Too bad it leaves you a bit scatterbrained in the meantime.

So here’s another BAD IDEA: Do not see Moana for the first time after you just return to the US after two years’ cruising.  You will end up like Mel, tears streaming down her face as she sees the computer-rendered clear-blue water with familiar phosphorescent jellyfish globes, trying to remember quotes like, “We were voyagers!  We were voyagers!”  What an awesome movie, for people like we. 

You see, Mel comes from a long line of voyagers.  She is apparently the 11th-generation descendant of John Alden, who crossed the ocean as the cooper on the Mayflower.  This means that he was essentially the provisioner, which is fitting, as that is where her ocean-going skills lie.  And right now Mel is trying to reconcile her genetic voyaging instinct with her strong drive to serve humanity by utilizing her skills, which after years of training turns out to be, despite her hiatus, the ability to help those with Parkinson Disease and other movement disorders.  After Moana, and sailing 18,000 nautical miles in two years, Mel knows that she is not abandoning the voyage by holding off on sailing for a while.  She will instead voyage through the varied and complex lands of Humanity, witnessing the beautiful (and flawed) ways her brave patients face neurological disease.  After all, isn’t what we all seek in life just a greater understanding of humanity, and our role in the universe?  Privileged to be born with the smarts and opportunity to become a doctor, Mel does not have to cross oceans to understand that.  She is now seeking out the best way to become the most awesome Voyaging Neurologist she can be.

Stay tuned.

We have more pics of our boat!  For those with the funds to buy Marvin, a truly awesome score you lucky dog!, click here.

4 Responses

  1. Carla Kelly
    | Reply

    I’m Jeremy Kelly’s mom, and I must tell you how much I have enjoyed this blog. So kind of you to share your journey.
    Best of everything to you in the future. If you’re ever near Idaho Falls, ID, or want to have a comfortable place to stay after/before visiting Yellowstone NP, Casa Kelly is at your disposal.

    • Mel
      | Reply

      We will take you up on that! We would love to show our kids that beautiful part of the country some day!

  2. Edie Webber
    | Reply

    Thank you for the update. Just so you know, I save your emails for when I am having my peace. Drinking coffee on my back porch (which has a view like your Missouri photos) and waiting for the me and the world to wake up.
    I am having a hard time explaining as poetically as you that ” I feel you”
    I hope that you profound change your entire family underwent stays with you, that deep peace that settled over all of you remains unrooted by the new pace and pressure of daily life.
    Perhaps I could persuade you to come to Dallas? We have lots of land and an ocean not too far away. You could do a quick crossing to the Yucatan Peninsula every other weekend… And we go north to ski in the winter in the Colorado Rockies.
    I can see the stars at night, ride my horses, spy on deer, watch the lightning bugs at night. (and work a little too)
    I know a lot of physician recruiters, (I am not one, I am a realtor who works with recruiters to place Drs)
    I have a list of about 200 of them. It would be easy to get you offers..
    Just sayin

    • Mel
      | Reply

      My brother lives in Plano, so I have thought about Dallas. But the teaching opportunities are in Omaha for me right now. I am happy to have brought you some joy along the way!

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