Before I proceed to publish the next post regarding my travels though Southeast Asia, I decided to take some time and publish something about how I feel right now.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think I dreamt the last two years. Did I really spend two years of my life in Madagascar living in a rural village and speaking a language so unique I will in fact never use it again? I have been home for nearly two months and sadly it feels like I have never left. That I have always fought the 5 and the 405 traffic. That I have always dealt with people who are impatient enough to not let someone over into their lane or a pedestrian cross in front of them. That’s the difference between USA and Madagascar. They are so completely opposite from each other that even when you have lived in both countries, you forget the other when your living in the latter.
I try to remind myself what I experienced and what I learned while abroad. I don’t want to forget everything I lived and dealt with. I don’t want to fall out of touch with the people I have met and grew so close to; the people who became my family and helped me through the tough times. I don’t want to forget how carefree the lifestyle was over there, and replace that mindset with the “go. go. go.” mentality that is what America is. My days of hanging out with friends or teaching a class while eating fried snacks has been replaced with the stress of trying to find a job, dealing with a sick dog–who I spent my entire savings on bringing back to America and since then has battled not one but three different illnesses–and trying to figure out how I am going to make ends meet.
It seems so foreign to me that just four months ago, I was living and breathing all things Madagascar and now it rarely comes up in conversation. It’s even more foreign to me how few people even bring it up; that my friends have placed on the goggles that tunnel vision right past my last two years. They don’t want me to reminisce about the last two years, so should I not?
So every morning when I roll out of bed and sit there telling myself that Madagascar was not a dream but a reality, I take a look at myself in the mirror. I did not do Peace Corps for anyone else besides myself, so I always ask, “do you like what you see?” Not physically, but the overall image. Have I accomplished everything that I wanted to and am living a life I am proud of. On those rare occasions that I answer with a no, I remember the quote I placed on a wall in my apartment, the English counterpart to the Sanskrit one I have tattooed on the side of my rib cage, “You suffered. You learned. You changed.” As I take the next steps in my life, I will always have that reminder that I DID spend two years abroad trying to help a community. I DID experience a life event that a limited number of people have as well and would understand, and I WILL and forever WILL snap back to reality and remember that Madagascar DID happen and will forever be with me.