Yesterday, Kyle and I went to the LA County Fair. Despite having grown up about an hour away from the fairgrounds, this was the first time I had ever been. Kyle’s mom and stepdad are members of a home-brew club that gives live demonstrations on weekends during the fair, so we all went together so that Kyle and I could explore for free while they were brewing (they’ve been going for a few years now and have already seen everything the fair has to offer).
We spent the morning wandering around the DIY building where the show kitchen for the brewing demonstrations is located. There were huge cases full of prizewinning cookies, cakes, jams, and other homemade goods. There was also a section with prizewinning table displays (as in, formally set dining tables decorated according to a theme – who knew this was a thing?) On the other side of the building there were displays of quilts and other sewn items, alongside holiday displays for Halloween and Christmas (who is even thinking about the holidays right now? It’s September, people!) Afterwards we went over to the Farm exhibit, mostly because I had heard there were pig races and was determined to find a pig to name Peanut Butter Pig who would win every race. We were too early for the pig race, but did get to see a ton of adorable baby animals and some very strange looking chickens.
The rest of the afternoon we spent checking out the carnival area and the outrageous foods that were being fried up all throughout the fair. Aside from grilled corn and turkey legs, deep frying is the main form of food prep, and the things they are frying have gotten a little out of control. Alongside the fried twinkies and oreos were fried hot sauce, fried bacon wrapped guacamole, fried bacon smores, and fried butter balls. FRIED BUTTER. My heart felt clogged up just walking by the booth. We did get a blackberry merlot gelato and churro sandwich, which was amazing.
Now that we are officially back in the US for good, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on the last year in Macedonia. The circumstances of our return didn’t leave any room for contemplation in the moment, so readjustment this time around has been really different from previous returns from expat life. As we were wandering around the fair, things kept jumping out at me that were so starkly different from the way things were in Macedonia – the way livestock was treated in the Farm exhibit, the enormous size of everything, how diverse the crowd was. I’m still adjusting to being able to flush toilet paper after spending my first week back compulsively looking for garbage cans in bathrooms, and occasionally find myself mentally preparing for language barriers that no longer exist when I go out. We happened to arrive back in LA at almost the exact same time we had arrived from our road trip last year, so at times the whole year in Macedonia seems like a blur that might not have happened. For now, we’re putting our life back together, looking for work and deciding where we want to settle down for a while. We’ll be in LA for the next few weeks at least, and then the plan is to take a long road trip back towards the east coast. In the meantime, I’m enjoying being back home with family and friends.