Jul 5, 2016

Lessons on Being American: Part I.

What an incredible privilege it is to be able to dictate the course of your own life. What an impossible burden and blessing. Again in my life I find myself faced with the same problem that very few in the world's population get to address: Where in the world should I go? What do I want to do? Who do I want to be?

A year ago, I answered with, "Africa." So I came here, and it was the greatest decision for that time. I am so thankful. 

Now, the answer is, "Home." 

After 8 years abroad, I have a one-way ticket to America. And no plan. I want to sit on the front porch and drink coffee with my dad. I want to go to an American breakfast place and order scrambled eggs and bacon. I want to go for evening walks on paved roads. I want Vintners Red wine from St. Augustine and hot showers whenever I want. 

I want a routine. Simplicity. Calm. 

I want to cook dinner with my mom and read magazines on the back patio. I want to call my sister on an actual phone and catch up with the friends who have lived so far away for so long. I want to buy strawberries by the quart and cook with an oven. I want to go to the library and order from Amazon Prime. I want clean hair and feet. 

These things all feel like little luxuries in my head. A world of possibility and comfort. 

The way it works out, there are only a few days home before my family leaves on family vacation together. (Nothing says, "Welcome back to America" like a trip to Canada). So, I have been online shopping so that I can have some much-needed debrief time at home while also getting some things I need. 

Last year when I left China, I gave almost all of my belongings away. Now, that is happening again here in Africa, as most of the shoes and clothes I came with have been ruined by the dust and hand washing and I want to give extra things to my African friends rather than taking stuff home. I find my self in a funny position: starting over in America with practically nothing. 

Truth: I have no idea what Americans use and need. I have a running list of what I "need" as an American...health insurance, a phone and phone plan, a french press, a cat scratch tree for Mushu, Birkenstocks....just to name a few things, ha. 

A few days ago I was on Amazon looking at coffee machines and broke down in tears. I have no idea why coffee products made me cry. I guess it is just going to be part of the experience of the next few months - reacting to my new reality and accepting that reaction for whatever reason it has occurred. 

I think it is that for 8 years I have lived with less and been very ok. The abundance of America is daunting, even from 8 days out. 

I guess it's all part of learning to be American. How lucky am I to be able to make this choice, the choice to go home. Those without a family, those who are refugees, those who are bound by debt or corruption or difficult life circumstances...they don't have this liberty. The grandness of returning home is not lost on me. 

walk slow. xoxo. 

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