FEB 5, 2010
Okay some of you (aka my sister) may believe I was dysfunctional before I left for this crazy adventure but it has only recently become apparent to me that I am in fact going to be a very odd person when I get back to the states…and I have possibly become an odd person even for Ethiopian standards.
See the thing is that I live a very isolationist lifestyle right now; that is due to a combination of a lack of resources and a lack of desire to change my situation; with a greater emphasis on the former. I wake up, feed my goat, maybe brush my hair (depends on if I brushed it the night before), possibly brush my teeth (or just be satisfied with the stick scrub on the way to work). Then I hit up my breakfast joint where I pay 2.50 birr ($0.18) for a bread roll, spicy bean mush and tea, go to work and work or not work till 12:00-ish. At lunch I feed my goat lunch, eat a banana or just chug a lot of water (too hot to cook during the day) and read a book or take a nap till 2-ish when I head back to the office to work or not work till 5-ish. At that point I head home to cook a typically sad meal or I go out for greasy meat with injera dish or more bean mush with injera… amazingly enough I actually choose to eat out about 4 nights a week; I am that bad of a cook.
I wash my own clothes with water that I have delivered to my house by a donkey. If I want drinking water I have to walk down a 0.5 Km path which can be a bit steep and unpredictable only to wait in a 30 min to 2 hour line for ‘clean’ access to fill up my cans. I buy my groceries twice a week at an open market where there are hundreds of vendors but unfortunately they are all selling the same three items, quite the debacle. I go to work everyday but don’t expect to necessarily have to work yet I’m ready to do things above and beyond what I ever thought of as my job description. And I leave my home everyday thinking I’m just a normal person only to be pointed at, whispered about, laughed at, and yelled at by just about everyone I pass on the road. It’s quite a life.
So why will I be horribly dysfunctional when I get back? Well other than having to adjust to not being the center of attention 24/7 I will also have to adjust to the American lifestyle: constant electricity, internet access, grocery stores, personal cars, washing machines, dryers, sinks, toilets, mirrors… I could go on and on. I really hope I won’t be the type to say “You know what people live like in Ethiopia…” because at this point I understand there is no comparison between life in the 1st world and life here but even if I don’t express it out loud I don’t know if I’m going to be able to hide the look on my face… a look that says “What the Fuck!”.
A lot of the times I lie in bed or sit in my chair outside and think about life back home and mostly all that comes to mind now is just images. The high ceilings at my mom’s house – what do you do with all that space? The large mirror in my old bathroom at my dad’s house – do I really want to look at that much of myself? My motorcycle – has that woman crashed it or is it just sitting in her garage? My friend’s dog – would he still want to cuddle with me in the morning? A hospital ward – is that where my sister works now? A police station – does he drink coffee and have a mustache? Little Russlekins – will he bite me when I get back? The Berkeley clock tower – does she feel like she’s graduating and moving on?
So when I get back… and even though it is still 12 months away I still think about it all the time… I am going to be horribly dysfunctional and I apologize. I may just sit quietly most because I can’t form the correct English phrase which expresses my opinion or I may talk incessantly because I am so afraid that at any moment I will be alone again, unable to talk to anyone.
Regardless I am going to be weird and I know this because I am weird now! There are a few VSOs (Voluntary Services Overseas) who live in Nekemte (the major town nearest to me) who I occasionally have lunch or dinner with and it is almost comical sometimes to see their reaction to my erratic behavior. One of the VSOs, Kevin, has spent long periods of time in social/cultural isolation so he understands my…oddities but even though he understands it doesn’t help my turrets like actions. Most of the time I talk as if no one is listening and more than often I can’t look at people genuinely for too long or else I might just tear up. He is a great listener and an awesome backboard for my newly acquired strangeness but I can’ help but feel guilty every time I see him. As if I’m a sinking ship he is just trying to bail the water out of me. The other VSOs are newly arrived in country and knowing how long it takes to find yourself here I don’t hold them to anything yet. They are all great for conversation though and I hope don’t write me off as the crazy ‘rural’ girl who comes into the big city for a laugh every now and again.
*SIGH* I don’t even think I can finish this blog in a normal way. My mind is running a million miles a minute with thoughts yet if I could display them on a screen it would just be a slow motion blur of photos of friends and family from home… A montage to my former life. But I don’t feel sad, as I look blankly at my tin front door I just feel … well, as if I got a long life ahead of me and I might as well spend some more of it here.