T-minus 2 weeks; kind of freaking out here!
Today is the 22nd of May. We're "leaving on a jet plane" in 2 weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. Compared to the 4+ years we have been here on the continent of Africa, that's nothing. Hardly a blip on the radar of time! No time at all and we'll be cruising on a freeway without speed bumps, grocery shopping outside the hours of 9-5, having uninterrupted power and water, with nothing ever lost in translation. No more abject poverty staring me in the face at every street corner. Not to mention being with family and friends we haven't seen in forever! Introducing our 2 1/2 year old to relatives she's never met. Meeting dear friends' toddlers we've never met. 6 months of peace from the e-mails and phone calls that run my life here in Kenya.
So why am I not jumping up and down with joy???? Why this undefined angst in the pit of my stomach?
I've been mulling over these questions over the past few weeks, since the 1-month count-down began. Because I really haven't understood myself lately. And then suddenly, I realized.
The last time I did this...this packing up Africa and flying 'home', was in grade 12 when I graduated from High School and returned for college. And that was a hard time. Harder than I can even describe to anyone who hasn't gone through the years of looking and sounding normal while being totally lost inside, not fitting in to the one place that is supposed to be home. Those days of reading instructions on the coke machine while everyone behind you wonders what's wrong with you. Of not spending a cent for a full month because you don't know how to access your money from the ATM and you're too embarrassed to ask. Or of overwhelmed paralysis having to pick a box of Kleenex from the 45 different options on the shelf. Running out of McDonald's in tears because you don't know what "2 for 2" means when you just want Chicken Nuggets. Those days were hard.
And I can't help but have a visceral reaction to going through it again. Sure, now I know how to use an ATM and a coke machine. I think I'll be more willing to ask questions and less concerned with seeming weird. I think. But culture shock does weird things to you. That much I do know. And for that reason, I'm dreading the inevitable collision that happens when my world has changed me, and your world has changed you, but we haven't all changed together.
So forgive me if I seem a little strange when we meet again in a few short weeks. Give me an extra dose of grace if I don't get your reference to some funny commercial or what happened at the last Super Bowl half-time show, if I start to wash out and dry your zip-lock bags for re-use, or if I look like I might just have a break-down in the middle of Target. Give me grace, give me time, and don't feel hurt if I miss Africa at times, because this is home too.