Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stranger in a Foreign Land: My second trip back home

No question, it was great to get a trip back home.  I took a full month on Peace Corps' dime back home in NC, and was thrilled the entire time.  Such an amazing feeling to reconnect to family, talk with old friends, and taste the foods, drink the drinks, and touch the land from which I grew up on.  My time back wasn't too long, as I had at first worried.  I suppose I thought that a month back in the U.S. would cause me to forget Uganda, or would get my body feeling like I was home for good.  I realize now that Uganda is a part of me, and for better or worse it is something that will remain in my blood for the rest of my life.  I will say that right now, I wouldn't have it any other way.

There are some pretty key things that, going back home, made me realize that perhaps "home" wasn't completely accurate.  At least, not in the definition I used to attach to it; a feeling of unparalleled comfort, where you don't get lost, or confused.  Most of the things I noticed weren't negative, but they still did highlight some simple truths, mostly that life does carry on even if you're not there to watch it happen.

One thing was my friends ability to spot available women.  I never worried about this!  I mean c'mon, you like a woman, think she's attractive, so you go up to her and ask her what her name is.  Figure it out from there.  But nooooo, apparently this is no longer acceptable.  At the age I have now found myself in (clearly I'm happy about it...), it is no longer acceptable to simply go up and introduce yourself to just anyone. You first have to do the search for the piece of metal on her left hand.  It is, apparently, bad manners NOT to do this!  How absurd.  Anyway, it is very clear to me that I have unintentionally entered a new dimension of dating, where i'm not searching for a lady, but rather a lady who's not married.  And look, it's not like this was what I was doing throughout my month back home.  Its just, I don't know, really disturbing that this is part of the process now.  What happened to the good ol' days when, if you liked somebody, you could get their AOL Screenname and say "sup"?

One of the things I was most excited about the U.S. was that I didn't have much plans, and that it was going to be a real live vacation.  I was thinking about this with the mindset that I would be able to read so many of the books which had remained on my shelves in Uganda.  I was foolish.  There is simply too much going on in the U.S. at any point to actually be able to close your mind off enough to enjoy a book.  I tried constantly. There was a football game, or basketball game, or a river outside, or good beer to drink, or things to see, people to talk to, things to download, games to play.  Reading?  No shot.  Never got past page 5.

The amount of safety measures in America seem pretty ridiculous to me.  When I was walking around at Southpoint, gawking at all of the white knees and floored by the amount of such seemingly simple items ("45 dollars for sandals....that would be...100,000 Shillings?! 100,000 Shillings for a pair of stupid sandals?!"), I stopped and watched some workers taking down the Christmas tree.  This tree was probably about 20 feet high, with big wide metal rings started at about 10 feet in diameter at the base.  3 men were taking down the fake fir, each of which were harnessed up by what had to be a 1000 pound maximum load webbing, on two different points of their bodies---just in case one failed.  what they were on was more stable than a ladder, and barely as high off the ground.  I couldn't help giggling, thinking about my 4 year old neighbor running around with a machete, laughing and jumping and swinging at the chickens in front of my house.

Beyond everything, it was a good journey home because of the people who I surrounded myself with.  Everyone I met that I truly cared about were in such good places in their respective lives; it was incredibly inspiring to see.

I was able to see my best friend Jarvis, who I could tell immediately was holding the look of a man who had seen the last woman he ever desired to be with.  His successful position, great new city (living in Philly), and other passions were getting along well as well (he's without question 5x the bartender I ever was, and he's done it through books and at-home trials); but these were all effortlessly eclipsed by the way he talked about this girl, now his fiance.  It is a rare treat to see a friend in such a great place; it was an absolute delight to be able to see him, meet her, and be apart of his life for a short time.  In so many ways, Jarvis keeps me focused on what success is, and where priorities should be.

Another brother I was able to see was my real one!  Getting to spend New Years with my older Brother was awesome; it is amazing that the older we get, the closer we become towards actually being people we can hang out with on a social level.  Will and I get along great---don't let this be a misunderstanding---but it is also quite clear that we come from different outlooks on life, or perhaps simply different approaches.  Most times this is at my own peril.  But as we've grown, I think it is quite obvious to anyone looking that we have both come a bit more towards the middle; I have moved towards being at least a little bit more responsible and goal-set, whereas Will has made it more of a priority to understand that having fun and doing stupid stuff isn't a bad goal to set all the time.  I can see him and I being best friends when we're 80 (but for the record, i'll only be 76).

It was also great to see my Mom and Dad.  They have successfully moved into a dreamhouse, in a dream location in the mountains which is both close to everything and near absolutely nothing.  It is the first real move that they've made on their own accord, without reason of job or designed length of stay.  It is such a beautiful house, highlighted by a river 30 meters down the hill which two balconies look out to.  I can only imagine how awesome it will be in the summer and early fall.  The house was great, to be sure---but it was my parents themselves who really tickled me.  How great a feeling it is for a son to see his parents obviously proud of their accomplishments!  It is something I had never really considered; obviously my parents have done extremely well for themselves in so many aspects of life, but really having them get to a point where they are ready to admit it is such an awesome feeling.  I am at a loss for words to describe this, quite clearly, and they probably won't like me writing this much about them anyway; it feels great.  Happy to seem them so happy.

So thank you Everyone who spent time, had a bed, put out the couch, bought a beer, or let me ramble into their ear while I was back home.  It was fantastic.  Next post will be getting more into exactly what i've been doing for the past couple of months that i've been back home from home, and away from my home in Ngora.

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