Tuesday, April 07, 2015

There's No Going Home Again

Easter is a time of new beginnings, as I told a neighbor the other day when I was trying to explain the weird American tradition of the Easter egg hunt, which is very much NOT a Tanzanian thing, but yet we do every year with their children.
Dying eggs with the neighborhood kids 2015.
And how appropriate it is since boy, do we have some new beginnings coming up! In less than 2 weeks everything will change for us. Yet what is strange this time around is that now we are changing BACK. We are moving back into our house in SC, back to jobs similar to what we were doing before we left. Back with our family and friends who I have missed so much. Back to regular power and electricity, comfort and stability, familiarity. These are all things I've longed for so many times over the years.

Yet, despite all these amazing things, I just can't seem to shake some overwhelmingly negative feelings. When the power goes out and the computer dies while I'm in the middle of working on something, instead of getting mad, I remind myself that I only have to deal with this for X number of months/weeks/days. When I drive by a group of kids in the neighborhood and they try for the zillionth time to jump onto the back of my moving truck, I count down the number of times I think this will happen before I will never.have.to.deal.with.it.again. Yet, there is some sort of "longingness" in these countdowns. I can't really explain it, but I've found myself savoring these instances lately. What gives? Surely I won't be sad to shed myself of these daily annoyances?

But of course, it's not the annoyances that I love about Tanzania, is it? It's easy to boil it down to that, so many annoyances and inconveniences. But our experience has been so, so much more than that. There is so much that I am sad about leaving, so much I will miss. The great friends we have made, who we have relied upon and who have helped us as if we were family. The silly smile of the neighborhood kids and the cheeky dance Maende does when I come home every night. The cool breeze that comes through with a rain after days and days of dryness. The sheer delight when the power comes back on in time for me to catch a TV show before bed. I'm even sad that I won't be an expat anymore. There's something inherently neat about that, even if I am truly the most boring person in the world, which I am.

Maende, so much sass for such a little guy.
But the sadness isn't it. I think there's something deeper at play here and I think it's been hiding just underneath the sadness and per-ordained nostalgia. And I'll just come right out and say it. I'm scared. Scared to go back. I always fear change, so this shouldn't come as a surprise to me but I guess I am a little caught off guard at how fearful I am of this change. I've tried to hide my fear under a cloak of sadness, but if I'm going to be true, this is what's up. I worry that I might be unhappy in our "old life?" What if my family and friends don't really like who I have become? What if I don't like them? What if I can't keep up with my new job or I'm just not good at it? But maybe worst of all, what if I forget? Forget the life I had here, the people I met and the joys I had? What if it just all goes back to the way it was?

Life here isn't easy and it isn't simple. But because we put up with so many daily inconveniences and the folks here struggle with so much, I've found myself rejoicing in the simple pleasures. I appreciate so much more here. And this is what I am afraid of. We are so fortunate in the US and I'm afraid I will get lost in the abundance. I will forget the things I should appreciate. Friends, family, electricity and clean water, good food, the smell of rain, the change of seasons, bird songs and clear traffic on the drive home from work, paved roads, croaking frogs. They say there is no going home again and I really hope that's true. Even though it scares me to death, I hope I won't be the same again.


Laura's Husband said...

Be the same?! Ha!? No way. Even if the last few years gets boxed and shelved to make room for your next chapter the TNZ will always be with you. You'll bless the rains down in Africa...

joanna said...

beautiful post. i don't have any wise words to respond with. i think we never know what will come next, and how our experiences will continue to shape us and those we love. you have done amazing work over the last few years, and you will continue to do so wherever you are. but you probably will get used to overstocked grocery stores,paved roads, and electricity...until the next adventure!

wagsandpurrs said...

I know you are apprehensive about coming back. Like Joanna said, you will get used to grocery stores, paved roads and electricity easier than you think. I just pray for your journey and safety coming home. Love you!