Six months isn't really THAT long. But it isn't really THAT short either! Though clearly, it's long enough to forget . . . yet short enough to still feel normal.
Like, I forgot what it's like to fly over a city that has no grass . . . but the red earth was so natural.
And I forgot how dirty my feet get walking around . . . but it feels like part of the dress code.
I forgot the way the heat smells . . . but it didn't really bother me.
And I forgot how sandals feel between my toes . . . but my feet were claustrophobic in my dansko's.
And I forgot how dirty children can be . . . but what's the problem with a little dirt around here?
And I forgot how a mud-brick wall crumbles over time . . . but it's part of the landscape.
And I forgot that the electricity cuts . . . but that's why I have a headlamp.
And I forgot that water filters are slow . . . but if I keep my bottles full, it doesn't matter.
And I forgot that 85F/30C is cold season . . . but it's such a nice (short) time of year!
Well, you get the idea.
Funny this life of continent jumping. Being in the US for six months I realized that I had forgotten how abnormal my context is . . . and yet, it makes complete sense to me. To be from one place yet live in another. To dream with subtitles. To open my wallet and find four different currencies.
When I was in the States I went to see The Hobbit. Early on the film, Bilbo (the Hobbit) has a conversation with Gandalf (the wizard) . . . Gandalf is trying to convince his little friend to take a risk and join in the adventure. The exchange of two simple lines echoed through my ears for the duration of the film . . . and it has resonated since.
Bilbo asks his friend, 'Can you promise I will . . . come back?' Without hesitation, Gandalf replies, 'No! But if you do, you won't be the same.'
I heard those words in my head today, as the plane touched down on the tarmac. Going back to the US this past July, I was not the same as when I had left . . . and starting this new term, I recognize that even more change is coming. And that state of constant change is starting to feel normal.