my country tis of thee

Being an American is a funny thing. Growing up in a country of intangible heritage and undenialable culture. Having the ability and opportunity to go half way across the world, fall in love, change your life, only to once again find yourself ordering a non-fat extra-hot five dollar coffee... as American as ever.

I never thought I could simultaniously love and hate a place so much as America, but now I'm thinking that it's a dicotomy that accompanies all places of "home". Without a doubt I have left a part of my heart there, a part of my family, a part of my life.

But despite the fact that I feel a similar incompleteness that was so common while living in Uganda and missing America, on this side it is a bit different. My ability to function here is almost as natural as breathing. I can instinctually locate a bathroom or a drinking fountain. I can read even subtle body language and pick up information from overheard conversations.

Maybe it's because this is my first home, and maybe it works like first love. Even if it's not the home you're currently seeing, or the one you choose to commit to- it's always the first. The best known, the longest loved, the most easy to return to in times of great fear, saddness, of joy. There is something there that doesn't need to have explinations or appoliogies. The deep unspoken connection is both comforting and disturbing in turn, but generally unchagable.

I don't know what it will be like to readjust, to be myself in this place again. But I do know that there is a time for everything under the sun-
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones,
A time to embrace and a time to turn away,
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
And I'm convinced that now it is time for me to return to my first home and see what awaits.


Four friends, two bikes, and a dirt road

The past month has been stressful to say the least. There were some wonderful things (like having BOTH my mom and best friend come visit me), some tragic things (two deaths in our community), and some big choices (I am officially coming home in the first week of March and applying for grad school at PSU). On top of it all lots of moving- our bosses moved back to Auzzie, we moved into their house, and a new family we hardly know moved in with us.

All of this resulted in a building desire to let go, laugh, and perhaps doing something a bit risky. Apparently being a responsible adult who can move across the world does not exempt me from the mindset of being young and invincible. (then again, maybe that’s how I could move across the world…) Anyway, Chelsea and I called our boda driver friends and explained our predicament. Apparently 18 year old boys with motorbikes only adds to invincibility. Chelsea DROVE all over our neighborhood, up and down the dirt roads, as I rode backwards on the bike in front of her in order to capture the whole thing on tape.

I have done a lot of funny things in Uganda, but never have I seen so many Ugandans double take and laugh hysterically. And never have I been laughing so hard that I almost fall off a moving vehicle. Don’t worry; the only accident was two girls crashing their bicycle as they tried to race Chelsea while responding to the nonsensical luganda phrases I was yelling at them.

And now I feel it’s time to buckle down again. To turn off the hip hop and get back to Mozart and Excel. To focus on finishing the work I came here to do. To turn the corner into the home stretch, pouring my heart into a place I’m going to leave sooner then expected.

But at least I know that I won’t have to rip my heart away in march, because I have decided to leave it here. Not all of it of course, but a piece large enough to keep me tied to the place that has both broken and healed me, a place I love and hate in equal measure. Being a sojourner is a funny thing. I wish I had word and wisdom enough to explain it…

But since I don’t please enjoy a few funny pictures: