Friday, June 27, 2014

The Impact of Sound

Another week has gone by and I have started to think less deliberately about Cambodia. Now it just hits me at random times when an experience makes me think of parallels from my time in Asia.

Walking is not as common in Jacksonville as I would like, mainly because the city is a large sprawl. However, I decided to walk to a meeting yesterday afternoon because the venue was literally 5 minutes away. Once I started my walk, I realized why most people don’t do it during the day- it is always TOO HOT. Walking in the heat immediately took me back to Cambodia and my daily lunch walks or walks to the market on weekends. Except there they involved a lot of vendors calling at you and you could never walk in peace and quiet. TUK TUK and MOTO became two words I hated hearing because there was just no rhyme or reason behind them. You could literally just get off a tuk tuk and another driver would call at you. This was a common complaint from expats because those of us that are used to saying no thank you had to keep stopping once or twice a minute to say Aw Tay (No Thank you in Khmer).

So now walking in silence in Jacksonville was so strange. I didn’t feel normal. I was craving to hear a honk or a scream or something. And then I felt crazy for wanting sounds we would label as obnoxious. This weird conundrum let me to hastily enter the wrong shop. I ended up in a vapor shop instead of a coffee shop.

This morning at breakfast, the theme of sound came back.  There was a large family with two young children. One of these kids was screaming for fun at 9am. I think most patrons wanted  the parents to do something about this but I loved it. It added “character” for me.

I never thought something as simple as sound would be a part of readjusting back to my life here but I guess you just never know what element is going to stick with you.

Monday, June 16, 2014

What it is Like to be Home

I have been home for three weeks now and it has felt like a roller coaster of emotions. I spent my first week in New York. The first few days were with family and I spent most of those eating, sleeping and recovering from a cold. The reminder of the week was all about helping Christina have the best wedding she could possibly have. It was so much fun watching one of my closest friends get married. There was laughter, there were tears and there was lots of hugging. There was an open bar and a ton of food, including a caviar station. There wasn’t much time to think. And I’m glad there wasn’t because I don’t think I would have known how to process anything around me.

I went from basic to luxury in a matter of days and my mind was perplexed.

After a few days of celebrations with Christina and Nick, Asghar and I headed to Jacksonville together the following Monday. I had seen our home before I left but it felt so foreign to me when I first stepped inside. I didn’t know how to connect with it. I felt overwhelmed and spoiled. Asghar went straight back to work and I spent my days inside our house, my nights catching up with friends over dinners. I didn’t leave the bedroom the first day because I didn’t know what to tackle first and staying in bed seemed like the best option.  Since all my clothes were in boxes, I was dressing out of Asghar’s closet.  Finally, I built up the courage to start working to make this house into our home. And now, after 12 days, it feels like ours.

We put so much time and energy into it this past weekend and that made the world of difference for me and my emotions. WE. Yes, I had been doing things here and there and seeing all the people that I love but something was missing. I felt different and didn't know how to reassume my old life without feeling guilty for all that I have. But when Asghar and I started working together, something just clicked. I remembered how hard we worked to get here. How we have always pushed to achieve our goals. None of which warrants any guilt. And so I have made my peace and look forward to the next opportunity that will allow me to give back to my home, the city of Jacksonville.  

The biggest challenge for me has been my response to the never ending question, “how was your trip?” My instinctive response is always to say it wasn’t a trip, I lived there so you have to be a bit more specific. But I realize that is a mean answer so I usually say, “It was wonderful and life changing.” If someone wants to know more, they can ask but most do not.

I don’t want to forget my experience and I don’t want to talk about it like I was there for charity. I want to carry it with me when I am thinking about how I speak with others and how to spend our money. And most importantly, by remembering there is a whole world out there and my life is one of privileges and freedom that I can’t take for granted.