Written Thursday, January 19, 2012
I don’t know if I could do justice with words to describe how wonderful it was being home for Christmas and New Years. It was awesome. My first family stop in the US was to my sister’s house in Philadelphia, and I rode the train to get there. I sat next to a girl who was Dominican and Black American, but I didn’t know until she started speaking Spanish. It was a good transition in, and helped distract me from the cold some.
In Philly, I met my beautiful new niece Mikayla. I loved that little girl since before she was born. It’s crazy how one can have so much love for their siblings’ children. How much more does the Father love us, since we are his very own? After several hours of driving in the car, my sister, brother-in-law, Mikayla and I finally made it down to NC, where I’d spend the rest of my visit. I ate everything in sight while in the States. Pizza, salad, steak, pasta, pies, mac/cheese, breads galore, fish, Mexican food. God bless America! Lol I think I put on at least five pounds while at home, but no matter, because they’ve fallen back off now that I’ve returned to the DR. Did I mention I’ve lost 20 lbs since I’ve become a volunteer? No need for congrats, I thought I was pretty fly before ;), and now, just skinty :), so I wouldn’t mind putting on maybe 10 more pounds.
Anyway, home, family, church, all the wonderful faces I’ve missed, and now miss again. At the airport in NC I met a black girl who was headed to the DR for a semester to study abroad. Another good transition between countries. At the Miami airport as I waited to board my flight, I relished hearing English all around me–on cell phones, in conversations between mother and daughter, over the intercom, on television, in restaurants–and began to get sad that I was leaving something so comfortable, so familiar, so home and exchanging it for being a foreigner once again. It was hard leaving from Miami airport for the DR again, and when we were taking off I cried on the plane. Not so much because of going back to the DR, but more because of leaving home. Strangely enough though when I landed in the DR again, and I heard the Spanish, I felt at home. I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.
That night I took an overpriced taxi to a moldy hostel where I stayed the night before going back to my site. The shower had an apparatus to heat water that was poorly wired, and just as I was stepping in, some sparks flew. Good thing I didn’t die while showering. While getting dressed, God blessed me with a wonderful treasure: the underwear that I dried in the dryer at my sister’s house had still retained some warmth. I savored that moment as the cotton kissed my skin. I waited a few seconds before continuing to get dressed to let that moment sink in. I knew it would be a while before I’d feel dryer heat from my underwear again.
Life is easier back home in the States. You want something, and you go get it, pending you have the money to, that is. But if you do, there are no limits. Want Thai food? It’s there. A good hair dryer at a reasonable price? It’s yours. It’s a blessing to have that type of access. But I recognize that most of it is also superfluous. Being back in the DR, I’ve been tempted to contemplate all the things I “could use” to deck out my cinderblock studio apartment that barely sleeps 3 people comfortably. I’ve had to keep reminding myself that I’m not here to stay. And that’s been a reminder to me that we’re not here on earth to stay; no one is here forever. We must be thankful for the access to stuff that’s available to those of us in developed nations, but be ever conscience of the fact that it really is just stuff, and it’s not even really ours to begin with. And those of us in developing nations must remember that too. There’s a consumer culture that’s taking/taken over many in the DR as well…well, not so much consumer culture, as much as the heart of man that always wants more. I guess all I mean to say is that as temporary as we are, we hold onto things as if they’re really ours, when it’s really just passing through our hands. We all do that, and I’m no exception. We must really make God laugh with our small minds. Life in him is the only treasure that will never fade. Help us, Father.
When I got back to my site, somehow the rain ants (ants that always make their way inside when it rains here) had managed to sneak into my home that was sealed up, and then made their final resting place my bed. I wondered if Doo Doo would remember me after two weeks of not hearing or seeing me, but surely enough when she sensed that I was home, she came running. Love that dog.
By the time I got home, my lawn was in desperate need of a manicure, so I pulled up the grass with my bare hands (big mistake). Ended up with a blister that lasted a few days and then left a dead-skin patch, which I don’t really know how to get rid of.
The weekend of my return, my project partner hosted a sleepover for 24 girls. I helped out. It was a lot of fun, but twenty-four little girls was a lot to manage. Made me seriously consider whether or not I really want kids. I brought gifts back for my host family, neighbor, project partner and the teachers in my training group, which of course they were all glad to receive.
Work wise, I’m over the hill with my teacher trainings, and hope to be graduating 16 educators at the end of February, that is if we can pull through this final stretch. Planning for the Peace Corps Dominican Republic 50th Anniversary celebration is starting to pick up. After that, I’ll start Photoshop and English classes, and probably a Chicas Brillantes group. I’m home again.