It’s nearly impossible to put into words this feeling of “Good-bye”…what can I say? It’s almost like you feel so many emotions at once that you begin to go numb. Self-preservation perhaps. Sadness, longing, anxiety, stress, fear of what lies ahead, joy for what lies behind, guilt, uncertainty, excitement. Put that all together in the past week, stir it up, and see what happens. But of course, you must still continue to mark exams, give final grades, take pictures, share meals, burn trash, clean the house, pack your whole life, throw parties, and say goodbye.
Talk about a lot happening all at once.
And I thought moving to Tanzania was stressful! Moving back is potentially worse.
While a small part of me is excited to be coming home, I can hardly focus on anything more than taking a hot shower or having movie night with popcorn and not worrying that my computer battery will die and I’ll have nothing to do for the next four days before it can be charged again…
Focusing on the mundane seems to be the right thing to do, because in reality, I wish I were going back to school tomorrow instead of getting on a bus. I have so much I still want to teach, so many more conversations to have, so many more things I could do here, so much more to learn. But the timing is not up to me. And it’s now time to leave the bush and re-enter the “developed world” as they say. The land of washing machines, running water, ice cubes, electricity, wi-fi, paved roads, comfy chairs, and blue jeans. I’ve come to enjoy this simple life here; it’s really not so bad. While initially I will enjoy the luxuries of life in America, I think it’s going to be difficult after awhile to deal with the guilt of what we deem “necessary” in our daily American lives.
It’s really hard to say what the shock will be like, but I’m sure it will be entertaining for those who experience it with me. I’m imagining being blinded by the abundance of white skin in the airport, inviting 17 extra people into the car for the ride home because that’s my new normal, and then possibly having a mental breakdown walking into Wal-Mart again for the first time. But as time goes on, I’ll get my haircut, take a few showers, get a pedicure to help my poor feet, buy some new clothes, and perhaps I’ll slowly but surely weave my way back into the American society.
And while this girl is leaving Tanzania, Tanzania will never leave her. I think there will be a big piece of my heart left here, which will not be easy to fill… I will say “Hodi” every time I knock on a door, when I’m cold I’ll just drape myself in colorful fabric, and I might even choose to have rice and beans for dinner occasionally. And of course, I will most likely tell anyone and everyone who will listen all about my new home in Muyenzi and my new family in Bukiriro. As I told all of my students on Friday, “I love each and everyone of you, even if you do not love mathematics…and if God wishes, we shall see each other again one day!” I have no doubt that I will one day return to Africa, and Ngara District will most certainly be on the top of my itinerary!