Thursday, July 31, 2014


Last night, after roughly 30 hours of time spent in airports or airplanes, I slipped under the sheets of my bed in my parents home and immediately thought 'my bed is more comfortable'.  Never mind the fact that in Huruta I pretty much slept on thick foam and here in the States I have a spring mattress.  It didn't feel like my bed, my home.

And that was weird.

All day yesterday, I pretty much hung out with my sister. We saw my grandma, who is now in assisted living. Did some grocery shopping, looked at phones (man do I need one), and talked.  Ethiopia, obviously, came up in our conversations, but mainly as a comparison to our surroundings. Like the fact Panera is freezing because, hello, I haven't felt air conditioning in two year.

But other than that, it's amazing how well I slipped back into American life.  I put on clothes that have sat in my dresser for two years and they fit the same. I made breakfast, finding the cereal and milk in the usual spots. I did laundry, reaching for the Tide automatically.

I think what was really weird was driving last night. I met up with my dad and sister for dinner, and they gave me a location like I'm a local 'it's on Trenton by Eureka' and I just nodded and it wasn't until I was on my way out did I realize - I don't remember where that is. So I called my sister, got directions, and then...didn't follow them. It was like my body was on autopilot, taking me a different way, while at the same time I was hyper aware of speed limits, other cars, lights, the radio and omg why are the wipers moving?! Wait, it's staring to rain?  Automatic things are a little weird and make me anxious.

Driving made me realize I'm feeling that way a lot, that I'm slipping back into life but at the same time not.  I know where things are, I know how things are done and what most social norms and cues are here. But I'm constantly amazed by them in my head (podcasts actually downloading? cold milk? so much food in a store? a washing machine instead of buckets? decent shampoo and conditioner? traffic laws? more than three types of beer? more than a page of food choices, and they're ALL available to order? dimmer switches? does my family really need 4 cars? and so many plates and glasses? HD TV is beautiful. the network connects a call on the first try?) and feel like I'm just blocking a lot of thought and dialog because saying all that aloud and just staring at the TV remotes (why are there four?!) is weird.

When I went to Zambia, part of the amazingness was going with another PCV and just talking about things. OMG look at all the asphalt. That's a stoplight!  A mall!? I haven't even seen a Subway for a year, we're eating there. She got the crazyiness, and it was good to get that out in the open, even if the people around us I'm sure thought we were a little bit strange.

As it is now, not really able to voice that, I feel like I'm in this limbo status.  On top of that, the few people I've seen have asked me about my time in Ethiopia and it's hard to know what to say.  It's not a vacation where I can list my activities and gush over the food.  It's my life. Was. Was my life. And what I think of as highlights might not be what other people would have labeled as such. My projects, sure, but even that first Timket when Dani made sure to take care of me, when I realized she wasn't just a landlady but a sister.
Maybe that time we trespassed for views...

I think what bothers me is this ability to slip back into America.  I loved my time in Ethiopia, and just as I had to adjust to that I wanted to have an adjustment period back here that's a little rougher than it is, just to solidify the time I spent in Huruta. It was real, it happened, and now you see the world differently.  I want proof of that other than the photos on my hard drive and my dyed hair.  I want to see the difference in me, but it's always been hard to measure self change.

Maybe I'm just still in shock over the fact that I'm here with my family, finally.


Annalisa Crawford said...

I think that realisation will happen in maybe a couple of days/weeks. At the moment, you're revelling in the novelty of being home. You've spent 2 years in a wildly different life - it will have an important impact on you.

I'm glad you're home safely :-)

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