That Belgrade hotel room feels like a long time ago. One month home. I made it back in time to smell roasting green chile waft from grocery store parking lots, to see hot air balloons fly en masse over my city, and to watch post season baseball; and without contracting covid, losing my bags or mind, and just before a likely nationwide strike affects the entire film industry. Sigh of relief.

Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta

I was unable to relax for my first two weeks home and tore apart my house, closet, and studio in a frenzied desire to get rid of any and all clutter. It felt like I had suddenly woken up from a 15 month Covid induced nap; 10 pounds heavier, with a dusty and cluttered house. Something about getting out into the world had shaken me up and I brought that adrenaline fueled energy home with me.

Two weeks in, I collapsed on the couch in my clean house and finally slept.

There is a simplicity in Europe that I hope to retain from here. Appreciation for small things, meals, and spaces. Trips to the nearby sea and a really good loaf of bread. Since arriving home, the negotiations between my film Union and that of the Producers have not been going well and I think about the quality of life issues involved. My European co-workers were appalled at the hours that we, the Americans, took as normal and expected. They couldn’t believe that those hours were actually desired in order to bank and keep health insurance and pensions and that so many were ok with giving up time with family and friends in exchange for things they deemed basic rights. It also appeared that they were content with smaller cars, apartments, bank accounts, and vacations than those we deem desirable.

Being away made me realize just how American I am. As my first few weeks home showed me, I am not good at relaxing. I strive and scheme and worry about the future, feeling a desire and need to make it and to keep growing. I think as an individual more than a part. I have managed to slow down recently. The adrenaline has worn off and the to do list has shrunk. It is beautiful here. October in New Mexico, crisp and golden and vast. As an impending industry strike looms, I try to pay attention to the collective. How can I assist? How can I live simply for the time being until we know what will happen? How can I make decisions that move in the direction of quality of life rather than striving for bigger and more? These are the questions I brought home from abroad.

Neighborhood Cacti.

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