On a more personal note, it’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve been back in the land of the free and home of the mortage crisis and so far it’s been really good. I’m currently visiting family members in southern New Jersey. I’ve already been to New York City (and the accompanying New Jersey burbs), Seattle, and Vancouver (not to mention my London layover which I already shared with you) and still got Boston and Portland to go.
I have to admit that hitting the ground and zooming between over 7 states in the first two weeks may NOT be the most sane decision I’ve made but that’s what happens when all my loved ones are spread wide and far. That said, I am trying to enjoy every place I’m visiting to the best of my tired and sleepy ability and between visiting new parks, old and favorite shops, and discovering new places to add to my ‘must return to’ list, I am having a good time.
There have many personal highlights to returning home and I’ll share a few of them with you:
a) One of the BEST things of being home is the ability to talk to my favorite people whenever I want to. I am totally that girl who talks to her sister and close friends multiple times a day. Before I left to live in Sudan, my sister and I would talk in the morning on our respective commutes to work, several times during the day and in the evening before going to bed. My friend and I spoke forever the other day just while she was running errands. I’m not a big phone person overall, but with these select people, speaking with them throughout the day is just a natural part of the day. So you can only imagine how cut off I felt in Sudan. Email, chatting, and Skype are all marvelous technological forces but for me they will never beat the pleasure of sitting face-to-face with loved one or at the least just clearly hearing their voice. So now that I have a handy-dandy new phone, I’m happily back to my old habits ☺.
b) One of the best things of coming home is seeing how old friends have changed or remained the same. Even though you ‘know’ what is happening in their lives by keeping up through email, as I’ve already said, seeing the person is always so different. For example, while I was gone a good friend of mine had a baby. It was SOOOO bizarre to see her with this bundle of cuteness clinging to her like a koala bear! I was just such a new way to see her – as a mom – and it was just so natural. It was also so funny to see her husband as a father. He came into their apartment and you could tell from his face that he was just so excited to see his daughter. After a few minutes of chit chat, he totally couldn’t hold back had to hold her. It was just so amazing to see a pair that I’ve only known as 2 people version of ‘we’ turn into a mini family.
I also got to see two of my closest friends who I missed tremendously and in addition to just being glad to see them, it was so comforting that they were the same people (despite the multiple changes in their lives). It was great to just catch up without having to tell your whole life story because they already know where you are at and where you are coming from so you can jump directly into the present and future without having to go into full-scale detail about the past.
c) Another highlight of my return has been hanging out with my mother. She can be so random and funny, and this is something that I sometimes forget when I’m so far away. For example, the day I arrive in Seattle to visit her, she tells me that she wants to go to Vancouver which is only a hop, skip, and jump away from Seattle. Of course, I had NO PLANS of crossing international borders to soon after arriving and at the most had thought about a trip to Portland, Oregon so I didn’t bring my passport. The next morning (Sunday), I’m chatting with a friend who tells me that he doesn’t think that one needs a passport to go to Canada and just like the Bible, the web produces a page that supports this theory. Did I mention that this friend has NEVER been to Canada? Anyway, my mom takes my word for it and off we go. Of course 2 hours later when we get to the border, the customs official is like ‘ahhhh, Yeah ya need a passport to get in!!’ Fortunately, he was also a VERY VERY nice man who readily believed us when we said that we were only going for a day trip and allowed us to get in. It wasn’t until we were in Canada that the thought crossed our minds that we might need a passport to re-enter the United States. However, quickly throwing that thought into the ‘cross that bridge when we get there’ pile, we enjoyed a lovely day in Vancouver. AND while a passport is needed to get into Canada, you do NOT need one to enter the U.S. when traveling by land. Our driver licenses’ were sufficient!!
d) A final highlight has been just being around and meeting people with search various day jobs. Don’t get me wrong, there are various professionals working in Sudan including local farmers, goat herders, etc. However, I the majority of people I knew (both local and expatriate) were in the development/humanitarian business. So it has been nice to meet up with friends who work in fashion, IT, lawyers, doctors, musicians, editors, mothers (talk about a whole other variation on a full-time job) and even the lady sitting next to me is an early child development specialist. I just feel like I totally forgot what it was like to be around people doing such a variety of work and also just having a life outside of work. Anyway, it’s all very refreshing!