After two years and five months on foreign soil, I am finally back home!
I've been back now for a couple weeks – and I apologize for the length of time it has taken me to put up a blog. After living at a slow pace over the last couple years with so much alone time and free time, I feel a bit dizzy at times trying to keep up and juggle the intricacies of American lifestyle once again. I am very happy to be back in the United States though.
The best part of being home is the ability to see friends and family. I have been indulging in good beer and whiskey, good food, football, big screen tv's, hot showers and hot tubs, easily accessible and fast internet, dishwashers, and people watching.
The last couple of weeks have been a lot of fun. A benefit of being gone for a long time and a returning Peace Corps Volunteer means people are willing to buy your food and drinks. In fact, in the Miami airport, in between flights, first thing I did was order an American beer. A lady saw my Peace Corps patch and inquired about it – then she shook my hand and said, "Thank you" to me for my service and offered to buy me another beer.
However, I can't say that readjustment has been pain-free. My first social event in Washington DC brought on a severe hangover that lasted an entire day…and the food portions are so large I can't move after eating!
The differences between my life here and my life in the Peace Corps are too many to list – and I haven't been back long enough to establish a routine…and I don't know what I'll be doing yet. The US is an amazing country though; I am lucky this is my home to return to. Being gone for a good amount of time and living within a different culture allows me to compare and contrast the differences – positives and negatives. Peru was an amazing country with their fair share of problems…and the US is an amazing country with our fair share of problems.
One of the main aspects of readjustment is that everything is different and amplified to me, while it's normal to everyone else. The portions of food seem larger than before, the marketing seems more relentless, the people seem way more stressed out and concerned about trivialities, the waste seems more reckless, the "news" is more biased, incomplete, and sensationalized than before, everything is competing for attention, and the variety of everything seems endless. Life appears so hectic. Sometimes I think a simplified metaphor for life today is a dog chasing his tail – one difference here in the United States is that the dog makes three circles for every one circle they made back where I lived in Peru.
Another aspect of readjustment deals with the romanticism of home versus the reality of home. While away and living as a Peace Corps Volunteer, one can't help but romanticize the idea of home and being back into the world you know…and they never match completely. Some aspects are better than I thought and others are not as exciting…though since I knew to temper that romanticism, it hasn't been that bad.
At times I feel a bit awkward as I get back into the American groove. Putting on nice clothes feels weird. Walking into a bar or restaurant and not being stared at by everyone is nice but being exotic is fun. Meeting someone new and not kissing their cheek if they are female feels rude. Not bargaining for the price of things feels like I'm getting taken advantage of...or paying a lot more for things that were so cheap in Peru is annoying. Having things operate so efficiently is awesome and the friendly service makes me feel like they're up to something. The fact that so much of our food comes packaged is a bit disturbing...but being able to eat any ethnicity of food that I want is incredible.
Long story short – I'm very happy to be back. I don't know what my plans are yet – and I'm about to start getting the process of searching for it underway. The last couple weeks were solely for enjoyment…now comes reality.
"The problem is that I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." E.B. White