I was flying home one time to visit family, back when I lived in the Dominican Republic. My flight had a six hour layover in Miami, and the Miami airport isn’t exactly the most fun place to spend six whole hours (not that any airport is!). So I decided I’d call an old Peace Corps friend of mine who lived in Miami to come pick me up.
I had been living in the Dominican Republic for about three years at this point, and I found that being back in American culture was a little overwhelming. Between the heat and the sensory overload, I stepped out of the Miami airport with a massive headache. So my friend and I headed to the nearest Walgreens to pick up some aspirin.
Now, in the DR, I had gotten used to just going down the street to the little corner store whenever I needed something for a headache. I could usually count on having one or maybe two options for painkillers. But the painkiller aisle in that Miami Walgreens seemed to stretch all the way to the horizon, painkillers as far as the eye could see. They had aspirin and ibuprofen and acetaminophen and naproxen; they had tablets and capsules, bottles and packets and boxes of every size and quantity imaginable. It was ridiculous. I just wanted to feel better – but by the time I finally picked something out, I felt like my head was literally going to explode.