I still wake up sometimes in the cold confines of an over air-conditioned room and desperately search for my malaria net--my safety blanket. These two worlds feel so entirely different, I always wonder if one was only a dream.
The readjustment back to American life and culture is something often discussed amongst Peace Corps Volunteers and those who live abroad--the tales of tears shed a supermarket or the development of agoraphobia, but everyones experience is different. But yes I did cry at the sight of a mango in a supermarket it looked so out of place in such a cold, clean, space; not in a busy market with a mama selling it. I believe the biggest struggle is the in between time--when your story is "I just got back from the Peace Corps and I am hanging out" the uncertainty is deadly to your confidence, yet I never imagined that having a plan would be difficult as well--it means it is really over. There is no magic time when you should stop grieving the loss of your alternative, yet somewhat mythical life--it has to be felt.
I miss my students more than I ever thought possible, yet it is a pain I never expected-- a joyful one. One day I furiously wrote down everything I could remember about each of my students in an attempt to save it all, before it slips away and when I broke down in tears when I forgot Jackline's favorite color, I could smile at myself for ever knowing it at all.
Life does move on and there are so many moments I am filled with so much gratitude for: seeing my grandma turn 90, being there when my niece was born, even the simplest actions such an afternoon with friends, and exploring a city make me want to scream with happiness. I started my first full-time job (albeit a temporary one) and I will be starting school at American University in the fall. I am even planning my first trip out of the country since I have been home to Guatemala to see my family. I realize now the growing importance of family and the wonderful life lesson you receive from looking back.
Six month--the view from here is different than I expected, but it is a bittersweet view.