When you finally get back on US soil after traveling internationally, you all know the customs drill… fill out the customs form, get in line, go through a short interview with immigration.. blah blah blah. When I returned to the states end of March, the customs lady asked me where I had been, what I had been doing.. the usual questions.. so I said I had been in Tanzania the last six months volunteering at a hospital. She asked me, “So you are living there now?” I paused for a moment, thinking.. yeah, I technically do live there now, so I answered, “yeah, basically.” She went on, “So, you’re just here for a visit then?” Me, again pausing and thinking before I answered, “Yes, I guess so.”
I don’t know why, but that short little conversation with the immigration officer really stunned me for a minute. I live in Tanzania.. and yes.. I am only visiting the United States….this is not new information, it is obviously something I have been aware of, but in that moment, it became very real. For now.. and most likely, for a while, I will just be a visitor to the USA.
I wasn’t quite sure how it would feel to be back.. to be “just visiting”.. would I feel sad that I am not living here anymore, or second guessing my decision, or would I feel peace and contentment? I remember the first time I came back from Africa (waaaay back when.. 2006!), I was a bit culture shocked.. US culture shocked.. and a little overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” we have here… it took me awhile to readjust back and adjust to this new life perspective I had obtained. I wondered if I would have similar feelings, having lived there for 6 months now, you kind of get used to the way of life there, which is vastly different than here. I just wasn’t sure what to expect.
Thankfully, now having been here in the states for over a month (longer than originally expected.. you guessed it, pole pole Visa process), I can safely say that the adjustment back to my American life has been just fine.. it’s like riding a bike, haha. Jk.. I know I haven’t been gone for THAT long!! No, but really, it has been really nice to be back “home” and enjoy all the perks of American life, but also feel appreciative and at peace knowing my other Moshi “home” is right where I am supposed to be!
This trip home was everything I had hoped for, and more. I was looking forward to having an uninterrupted month to spend time with my family and friends. It’s not very often that you get to spend such a large amount of time with people. Usually it’s just long weekend trips here and there, never the opportunity to have an entire month! I was able to have a lot of time with my parents, and bum around Lima seeing old high school friends, family friends, my second mom Angie, and one of my bff’s Mags in her hometown of Cleveland!! I got to see my sweet little niece Ella THREE times, along with my sister and brother-in-law in South Carolina!! And of course, a trip home wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Denver!! Denver was filled with visits with friends, old coworkers, a mini 1425 reunion, walks at Wash Park, a trip to the mountains and plenty of good food!
The best part was I could FINALLY take Joel to all my favorite places too!! He was finally able to come to my part of the world, meet my people, see my hometown, experience 1425, soak in the Colorado Rockies, and see more of who I am. And, let me tell you, it was perfect.
But all good things must come to an end, and my time has come to its end. I was grateful to have a little extra time here, but, of course, it now feels like the extra time went by too fast, and I’m feeling very torn about leaving. (I’m thinking I better get used to this feeling of being torn). I have people and things that I love in both places.. I have a good life in both places..I have amazing family and friends in the USA, but also an amazing boyfriend and friends in TZ… I have the potential of having a great job in both places… the list could go on.. and honestly, I don’t see a lot of this changing, hence the need to get used to feeling torn. I told Joel he better get used to me crying because I cry when I leave Tanzania and then cry when I’m coming back to Tanzania from here.. haha.. (he thinks I’m a little crazy..)
Honestly though, all I am is grateful that I have something great to come back to in each place. I truly feel loved, accepted, and supported in both places…so how can I feel anything but happy and lucky to be able to have that!?
All in all, I guess this Just Visiting status isn’t too bad after all….
Until next time United States…
See you all in Tanzania!