My first full day in the States, and I went to Vermont for the weekend, to visit Meghan’s aunt and uncle. It’s about 3 hours drive north from Boston. Their house – no, estate – is incredible. They own over 400 acres of land. When you look out the window across the rolling hills of Appalachia, they own as far as the eye can see. As Meghan put it, ”everything the light touches is theirs.” Their house has six bathrooms, two kitchens, and two or three living rooms. They have $12,000 paintings on the wall. It was a class of wealth I had never seen before. They’re upper-middle-class conservative Christians, who were very kind and generous, yet so different to the people who are usually in my life. On the first night we had dinner (Meghan’s parents were there too), Meghan’s aunt said, “Let’s say grace,” and everyone immediately put their hands together, shut their eyes and bowed their heads while Meghan’s cousin prayed, “Dear Lord, I thank you for putting this food on the table…” I had to bit my lip the whole time to stop myself from bursting out laughing. One half of me was in disbelief at what was happening around me, while the other half found it so funny because the only other time I’ve known people to say grace before dinner was the time Michael went to Plymouth, Indiana, and stayed with a family who said grace before eating a McDonald’s.

An after dinner anecdote, as told by Meghan’s aunt, was how much of a “nightmare” it was for her to decorate bathrooms in the house, because she said it was constant “shop shop shop.” She said, “One day I was at the checkout counter in a DIY store and I suddenly realised why I was so exhausted. So I said to the cashier, ‘You know what? I just realised why I’m so tired: I have nine bathrooms! No wonder I feel like I’m always shopping!’” I didn’t say anything. All I could think was: what was the cashier’s response?

Orchard in VermontThe scenic views in Vermont were beautiful, even though we arrived the weekend before all the leaves turn bright red and orange. All I knew about Vermont before I arrived was from the episode of Friends where Ross & Chandler go to stay in a hotel in Vermont and Ross gets addicted to the maple candy. So of course, I bought a box of this overpriced tourist attraction. It’s good, similar to Cornish fudge but not as creamy.