Thursday, November 15, 2007

I've only got one word for you...

I completed my 14 hour "hell-flight"--not including the 13 hour layover that I had in Paris...and here I am Stateside for the first time in 14 months. Before I get into the details of how the trip is going, I need only to tell you that being here has been pretty excellent. It isn't that I have done anything crazy, it has been the simple and ordinary that I have enjoyed the most--going to Starbucks for coffee, meeting with friends, watching TV, walking around the city, running in Central Park. I never realized how much I missed this life...and not the complexities, but the basic everyday. After only 2 weeks Burkina Faso seems like this dream. Does it really exist? Do people really live their lives there, while we live our lives here? It is so difficult to fathom that the two worlds exist in the same time-space continuum...they couldn't possibly be any more different!

My flight over was anything but fun. Thanks to yours truly and my fabulous packing/planning skills I forgot both my only sweatshirt and my only jacket...they have been keeping my empty hut in Banzon company. So, armed with a short sleeve shirt, pants, and flip flops I braved the cold weather of Europe. I FROZE my ass off in 5 degree (celsius) weather in Paris. Yup, those dreams I had of hitting up the Starbucks in Paris...FOILED AGAIN! Instead I wandered around the Charles de Gaulle Airport (which by the way is the WORST and most BORING airport ever!) for 13 hours drinking nasty Lavazza coffee. Could I have braved what from my perspective was the Artic Tundra come to life in France? Probably. Would I have gotten dirty looks from stylish Parisians as they scoffed and said, "humph, stupid Americaine..."? Most definitely. Would I have enjoyed my Starbucks? With my luck...probably not. It would either end up closed or out of coffee for the day. And, lord knows with the way the French strike I would probably have been stuck paying another 20 Euro for a cab. Thanks to the less than stellar US dollar...NOT WORTH IT...even for Starbucks!

After my very long 3-continent adventure I finally arrived safe and sound into New York City. The "City of Lights," "The City that Never Sleeps," "The Big Apple," "The Melting Pot of the World"...okay, enough with the nicknames. Mike met me there, and I swear it was as if I had never left. After 14 months away, I was able to adjust right back to life here as if I never left. Aside from the culture shock, that for the most part is just internal thoughts running through my head ("don't throw that away," "Oooohh, those onions and apples are huge," "Turn off those lights," "You mean the chicken is dead before you buy it? GREAT!"). It is really hard to believe that my two lives exist...here and there. There are times when an image or memory of my life in Burkina comes rushing forward, and all I want to do is tell someone about it, but in a lot of ways they wouldn't understand. So, I just sit there laughing to myself about the grocery stores, the toys, the food, the drinks....and a lot of words and feelings run through my head:

Enormous
Bright
Gluttonous
Ecstatic
Happy
Sad
Reminiscent
Rich
Poor
Busy
Fast

But, in the end...there is only one word that can truly sum up all that I have been feeling and thinking in the past two weeks (and it seems all too appropriate for this upcoming holiday).

GRATEFUL

I am grateful for the choices and opportunities I have in life--choices/opportunities that my friends back in Burkina will probably never get. I am grateful for my family...I am grateful for Mike...I am grateful for my friends (here and in Burkina)...I am grateful for my health...I am grateful for a shower...I am grateful for the changing colors of the leaves...I am grateful for the crisp Fall air...

As cheesy as it sounds, I can't help but smile and be grateful that this is my life, I am who I am, and I have the choices and options that I have. I know first-hand how easy it is to be blinded by other things--my job sucks, I don't have enough money, this guy in front of me is slow, where the hell is the bus!), and I think that in my trip home I have realized that I attained one of my biggest goals in going...to gain perspective.

So...if you are reading this...STOP! Stop for just one second and think about your life...about all the good things that are in it that maybe you have overlooked or taken for granted. Be grateful for those things, and maybe send some good vibes/prayers/whatever you do over to those in the world that don't have the choices and the opportunities.

Okay, that was my "Oprah" moment. I hope that everyone is enjoying the holidays, and if you haven't already...get in touch with me while I am home! Stay Safe.

1 comment:

honib1 said...

absolutely beautiful..