Returning to Reality in North Carolina
Last Thursday I stepped off my plane from Santiago and back onto American soil. I heard English all around me and walked past a sign advertising Artisanal Water and knew I was truly back. The fear of turning my phone off of airplane mode accidentally was gone and instead the freedom of unrestrained cell phone usage. There were leaves on the trees and disgusting amounts of humidity, two things that were absent from the last time I was in North Carolina.Despite all this fact, I still found myself muttering, “permiso” after bumping into people, or saying, “gracias” when receiving my food order. After nearly 6 months abroad, I’m home.
What does that mean exactly? It means I get to see my friends, family and dog, eat comfort again and speak English without feeling some sort of internal judgement. My shower water is hot and there isn’t tear gas in the street. If someone is staring at me it means they’re surprised by my height and not by my near pasty white skin tone. Apples stay ripe for more than a day or two and avocados aren’t on every piece of food (which is a tragedy).
More than anything else, since coming back I have been forced to find comfort in normalcy. During the last 6 months, I always had some sort of adventure or trip on the horizon. Something fantastic to look forward to that gave me motivation to push through the essay, video, or presentation that currently dictated my schedule. But now that I’m back, my days are spent doing aerial, working in a psych lab, and spending time with friends and family. All those things are fine, but they aren’t going to change for at least the next two years. I won’t break up the monotony by biking across Easter Island or shopping in artisanal fairs in Chiloe. The surrounding world will remain known and ordinary. After 6 months of constantly moving, exploring, and being pulled between my current adventure and planning where to go next, all of a sudden I’m stagnant. When I was standing still in Chile it was because I wanted a few weeks to recuperate in Valpo before the next big trip. It acted as time to catch my breath before setting sail to unknown adventures. But here in Chapel Hill, the lack of movement is suffocating.
Like all mothers, mine had great advice concerning my frustration. She simply remarked that I had caught the travel bug, and the good news was that I could explore again. So while my idleness here in Chapel Hill may feel confining, there are always more adventures to be had. More people to meet, more sights to see, and more places to get lost in. And knowing that fact is an enormous comfort.
This marks the last blog post for my time with IFSA-Butler. Thank you to my readers who have stuck with me through it all (mama, looking at you), and thanks to IFSA-Butler for this life-changing opportunity.
Until next time,