Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Darkness Sucks...(or) Re-entering My Atmosphere

As I lay awake at 2:30 AM (still trying to find a good sleeping rhythm...I'd blame it on the time zone adjustment, but those who know me know this is more my typical sleeping pattern, or lack thereof, than a time zone thing) I tuned into the thoughts about what I am missing about life in Yabus. Here are the thoughts I had:
Things I Miss About Life in Yabus
  1. Sunlight. Since I've been back I go to work in the dark. I am buried in the work in hand. By the time I look up again it's dark and time to go home. I get home after 7 and it's all dark outside my windows. Even though it was hotter than hot in Sudan, I miss the brightness of the day. I think I am suffering S.A.D. The darkness is depressing.
  2. I miss waking up to the sound of birds instead of the rude screaming of my alarm clock.
  3. I miss sitting out under the racuba (shade structure) after dinner, sharing fellowship with staff and their families, visiting through the sunset and the relighting of the sky by intense starlight.
  4. I miss the dozens and dozens of handshakes, greetings and friendly smiles from the local women and children and men who take a brake in their busy errands hauling things down the road through the compound. As Kathy on the team put it "sometimes I feel like a movie star here." The locals so wanted to make connection. Back here, a gentle wave of thanks as a car let's me merge into traffic does not a good substitute make.
  5. I miss feeling like I accomplished something. Teaching classes, seeing progress as light bulbs went on and students tried out their new knowledge: that was instant gratification. Back in my office, scrambling to prepare for hearings, preparing documentation, taking care of contracts and billings: these do not bring the same satisfaction.
  6. Mutual reliance on others: caring for each other in harsh conditions. Here I am dangerously self-reliant and can easily isolate as I manage things for myself.
  7. The self-awareness and thought provoking payoff that results from being taken out of my comfort zone and inserting myself into a place where everything is new and different.

and, to balance out...

Things I am Appreciating About Being Back

  1. Time alone. It's hard being with others 24-7. As noted above, reliance is kinda nice, but so is having time to oneself.
  2. along the same lines...Choosing whom I spend time with and having choices about what that time is. Granted, jumping back into work after so much time away does not give me much free time, and has zapped all my energy so that even on the weekends interaction is sparse. But I do have my own tribe here, people I spend time with because I want to, not because they are the only people along and can't escape them. The quality of a self chosen tribe is a blessing.
  3. Water. Drinking water from a tap. Access to tap water, bottled water, clean water. For drinking. For washing...cleaning off with dirty river water at the end of 120+-degree weather just doesn't do it for me.
  4. Food choice. Food variety. I don't have to eat rice and beans if I don't want to...and, for now, I really don't want to. Being able to pick up Thai food on a whim. Opting for salad bars and taco salads and anything of the vegetable variety that is fresh and crunchy...makes me cry tears of joy. Didn't realize how deprived I was.
  5. The coolness of night. Coolness in general. 120+ degrees is just plain hot. When it's cold here I can turn up the heat, put on more layers, drink something hot. When it's hot there there's a limit to how many clothes you can take off, there is no ice for drinks, there is no air conditioning.

Well, it's still dark out. and I have to head to work. I'll add to thoughts later. This is unfinished thinking but other commitments call.

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