It’s been 17 days since I’ve been home and I feel… weird.
In the beginning it was really just exciting to see everything and everyone but as jet lag and emotional exhaustion kicked in I found myself, the 80% extrovert wanting to hide in my room. I spent the better part of a year preparing people for the re-entry stress and somehow thought that made me immune to the issues that present themselves.
I keep likening it to the Pevensie’s returning from Narnia. It’s like no time has passed here. The kids have gotten older and there’s a few different mugs in the cupboard but it feels like I’ve had this whole other life and experience and life here has just continued. Which it has but it feels surreal. There’s a scene in the 2nd movie where Peter and Edmund are fighting some boys in a tube station and Edmund expresses his frustration that he was a king in Narnia and now is just a school boy. I can relate to that somewhat, the idea that in my “other life” I seemed to have more of a purpose and fulfilment. Here, I’m just an unemployed university graduate mooching off her parents (I know I’m being hard on myself and I still haven’t settled down, found a job etc).
It took me around two weeks just to get over jet lag but waking up every day at 4 am and going to bed at 10 pm and trying REALLY hard not to nap in the day was getting pretty old pretty quickly. The first couple of weeks were mostly filled with Christmas prep and unpacking. It was interesting that most people assumed I’d be really busy and thus ended up being fairly unbusy the first week. With the Christmas season my life quickly was filled with baking and shopping with my mom.
If I’m being totally honest, the last 4-6 weeks in Kenya I was more than ready to be home. I’m not sure if it was just that I knew I would be or some sort of psychological idealization of the efficiencies and luxury of the West but I couldn’t wait. I daydreamed of Starbucks, mom’s wontons and shopping my favourite stores; of getting dolled up for a night on the town with my girlfriends or board games nights’ with friends… and yet here I am and I’ve had those things and I realize that the grass really is greener on the other side. Now I’m home and I’m thinking of the people I left behind, some of whom I won’t see again in this life, and of some people that didn’t get goodbyes (although in the busyness it was impossible to say goodbye to every person that I knew). I miss the weather and the trees and even complaining about life there with other expats. My previous post, Le Mal d’Afrique hit it right on the head with this excerpt from Francesca Marciano’s novel, The Rules of the Wild:
Only now I realize how that feeling is a form of corruption. It’s like a crack in the wood which slowly creeps its way in. It gradually gets deeper and deeper until it has finally split you from the rest. You wake up one day to discover that you are floating on your own, you have become an independent island detached from its motherland, from its moral home base. Everything has already happened while you were asleep and now it’s too late to attempt anything: you are out here, there’s no way back. This is a one-way trip… This is why one day you have to come back. Because now you no longer belong anywhere. Not to any address, house, or telephone number in any city. Africa has taken you in and has broken you away from what you were before.
Before I’d mentioned that Jeremiah, a friend and short term missionary I met in the beginning of the year once asked me whether on an average, mundane day I was happier here or in Kenya. My answer to this has fluctuated through out the year and no doubt my thoughts on this will change again but at this moment in time in the midst of my re-entry stress, I’d say Kenya. Ask me again in two months…