Thursday, September 1, 2011

Re-entry

I have been home for almost three weeks now. I am doing well, enjoying the beautiful NC weather (minus that whole Irene thing), and soaking up all the things I love about life in the States. I get washes of missing Kenya every once in a while, and bouts of reverse culture-shock, which is a totally real thing by the way. Today I am missing Kenya like crazy and am thinking about my last few weeks back at home...

It is interesting how people react when you tell them that you just got home from Africa and were there for three months. Some people give me looks of jealousy. Some people look at me like I willingly had myself water-boarded for three months. Some people seem to not understand at all.

One woman asked me if Kibera was dangerous. Then before I could answer she added in all sincerity, "Well, it couldn't be any more dangerous than Durham".

I can't begrudge people who don't have the same experience I have. Or have the same desire to have the experiences I have. And I guess if Durham is your reference point for extreme danger, than that is all you know. (And you are one lucky person).

It is difficult to communicate my experience. I find myself vacillating between a short sweet "Yup, I had a great time" and a 30 minute monologue when a "yup, I had a great time" was all the person wanted.

It is also interesting, although not surprising, that people ask almost exclusively about the negative things. They want to hear my horror stories. How many times I feared for my life. What I had stolen from me. How I managed to live in such an awful place. How many lions I killed with my bare hands.

They don't want to hear how I had a really great time, how I respected almost everyone I met, how I had a lot in common with my new friends. How I want to go back and do it all again.

And again, I don't begrudge them wanting to hear the adventure stories. I probably would ask the same. And it wasn't all sunshine and roses, that is true. And often it is easier to tell the exciting and-then-I-killed-that-200-pound-lion-with-my-hands-tied-behind-my-back stories. So I tell my most exciting stories and indulge that human desire for drama (I am fortunate to not have many of these stories in my repertoire).

But its the beginning of a new month, and a new stage, and I am happy to be here.

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