My 17 day visit to America after 10 months in Uganda. (Someone send this to Past Tahrima circa August 22, 2015.)
You will say the words “In Uganda..” way too often and you will cringe inwardly every time it happens.
You will cry from laughing…multiple times.
The first time you eat at a restaurant, you won’t be able to stop staring at the glass of water in front you – the way the ice cubes bob inside, the pattern of condensation that’s already gathered on the outside. You will think of this moment every time you pay for a bottle of lukewarm water at a restaurant in Uganda and every time you finally sit down at your home after laboriously fetching and treating your drinking water.
You will feel clean, truly clean, for the first time in 10 months. You will be surprised by this because you didn’t even know you felt unclean to begin with.
You will put on makeup. The person in the mirror has bigger eyes, perfect eyebrows, rose tinted lips and a permanent blush. You will get tired of putting on makeup.
You will be confused by people who filter their tap water.
You will understand that it’s possible to outgrow friendships, and that’s okay.
You will get tired of telling the same stories over and over again but every time someone says “I could never do that,” you will feel a little prouder of yourself.
You will talk about your Ugandan neighbors and feel a pang in your chest, something like homesickness. In this moment you will realize that when you have hearts all over the world, one place will never feel completely like home.
You will reminisce with friends about days you forgot existed. Sometimes you will feel like a shadow of your former self, an imposter, and other times, it will be as if you never left at all.
You will gain a new sense of gratefulness for the people in your life – the ones who don’t think twice about dropping you off at the airport at 5 a.m. or playing chauffeur; the ones who rearrange their entire schedule to see you, even just for an hour; the ones who can tell your unhappy and will do anything to make you smile; the ones you cry to, the ones you laugh with.
You will realize that everything is the same and the only thing that’s changed is you.
You will realize that your life in America was never truly yours and you will miss your village home. You will remember this when you’re back in Uganda, standing in your dusty living room, crying from happiness and gratitude.
You will realize that as hard as it is, joining the Peace Corps was the best decision of your life thus far.
You will be cuddled. You will be hugged. You will be loved. And this time, you will soak in every second of it. The safe, warm feeling of someone’s arms around you, holding you tight; the way your bodies mold together perfectly. The softness of a pair of lips and the urgency it surrenders to. The tight squeezes and the bear hugs. The feeling of someone’s breathing in tune with yours. Waking up in a mess of limbs and hair, not knowing where you begin and she ends. Seventeen days of intertwined hands that changed color and shape every day. You memorize these moments and store them away for those lonely village nights when it feels like you’re the only person in the world.