Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Learning about myself

I dislike flying. I never knew that about myself until this last flight to Goleta. I'm not afraid of flying. I'm not worried that we will crash. I just dislike the experience and I like it less and less.

I always wanted to be the kind of person who enjoys flying. Once upon a time, I had a very mild sense of superiority at the ability to enjoy a flight. No longer. The pieces fit together too well and I must admit to my mild shame that I am coming to hate flying.

While waiting in a standing-room only holding area in Lagos while every passenger on a very full flight to Houston was being frisked again before we could board the plane, it all fell into place:

  • The way I can't sleep the night before
  • The way my "stomach" is angry from the time I reach my first gate until I get off the last plane
  • The way every layover with kids in tow sends me over the top in stress
  • The way very few things in Nigeria could upset my equilibrium, but just the thought of trying to make it through US customs and security to catch a 1 hour layover triggered my fight-or-flight mechanisms WEEKS in advance
  • My growing sense that TSA is all things evil and sadistic

Monday, June 11, 2012

On the meaning of fidelity and sacrifice

This is the true story of a woman whose husband (of six weeks) was lost during WWII. She received multiple, contradictory statements about his fate from the military. Not knowing whether he lived or died, she decided they were still married and she would remain faithful to him. Now they do know what happened.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wanderer in a Strange Land

You actually can go home again. There are just start up costs.

I expect to feel like I'm in a foreign country in Nigeria. I don't expect that in the US.

As we prepared to leave Nigeria and return to the US for the summer, we made careful plans. Among other things, we decided to leave as much as possible in Yola and buy anything we needed here, bringing only those clothes and so forth we would not be bringing back to Yola. That would preserve space for what we want to bring back with us. But that meant when we first arrived, we shampooed with the complementary hotel bottles, had no razors, etc. etc. etc. Few things say "Not At Home" quite like not having the specific things you use daily. [Fixed within 24 hours]

When we got to the US, we had no car insurance. So even though my parents were willing to let us borrow their car, we weren't legally allowed to. We hiked the mile to the store and back, lugging our medications, toiletries, and a few other things with us. Few things say "Not At Home" quite like not being able to get around. [Fixed within 72 hours]

When we got to the US, we had no phone. I expected this would be a major problem when we first arrived because I was certain there was no way on the Face on the EARTH we would get through customs and security with 2 red-eyed children, 2 red-eyed adults, and make it to our connecting flight with only a one hour layover. How would we let Mom know the new time to pick us up once our flights were rescheduled? Well, we found a way and it turned out by some minor miracle that we made our flight anyway. But few things say "Not At Home" quite like not having a phone, anyone's phone numbers, or ability to get hold of anyone. [Fixed within a week]

We're staying in Goleta right now, which is my home town. I know where everything is. Joy doesn't. Few things say "Not At Home" quite like needing to ask someone where literally everything is. How do I find food? Where can I take the children to play? When is church?

"You assume when you come back to the US, you assume you have a sense of independence again ... and it takes a while to set that up," Joy adds.

On the other hand, few things say "Welcome Home" quite like having all your favorite, beloved, only-in-the-US foods ready and waiting for you (Thanks, Pop!); knowing that everyone not only speaks the same language as their primary language, but speaks it the same way you do; the many hugs and smiles from friends and family; sleeping in the same room you had 20 years ago with your son sleeping where you did 30 years ago; (in my case) knowing where everything is; and finally rebuilding that ability to live and function independently. We got library cards within the first 2-3 days also and checked out nearly 50 books, mostly for the kids.

It's wonderful to be Back Home.