It has been several months now since I've returned to america and so far, more or less, it's been good.
Things are still shiny- I still get disproportionally excited about a big delicious cup of coffee or a 2 dollar taco or my beautiful new bra's and all they do for me.
Simultaneously a lot and very little has happened since my return. The holidays happened which were incredible and difficult. Incredible because I finally got to celebrate with family and friends and difficult because they had to live up to the expectations I have built up over 2 years in Morocco.
I got a part time job at a gas station and had to work christmas day, and as a child of school teachers I had no true way to deal with working on a holiday I had always had free my whole life.
I had to quit the part time gas station job because my body doesn't like standing still for 9 hours straight. It was sort of a disappointment. I kind of liked the work. I was busy most of the work day, I got to talk to lots of different people, the cash register was like a real-life Iphone game. I could see myself owning a little corner store like that some day (clearly with a different focus then 99 cent toquito's and frozen pizza's though). Often when I'm home I feel like I have no friends, because I have no social circle that remains here and I just sit at home feeling lonely – working at a place where more or less everyone has to stop meant that I got to see old teachers, classmates and got to make new friends. So on one hand while I continue to nurse my cranky upper back, I am grateful for my time there and I have a new found respect for people who work at places like that, standing all day on stupid mats that are supposed to help- by the way- every other country I've been to lets their tellers sit down.
Some things have been confusing me since being home. I'm not sure how I feel about wearing leggings and nothing over top of them especially in the winter time, though I've found some longer shirts that make me feel less exposed and I will probably jump on that bandwagon.
I am confused by commercials, though the more TV I watch the less ridiculous they seem. However, for the first 2 months commercials felt alien to me. The flashy BS that shows ridiculous juxtapositions between what we should want and how we should look and act confused me. Why do we need all this stuff? I will admit, though, that I watched some of the super bowl commercials the other day online- it's absurd how quickly these 30 second to 1 minute absurdities hawking cars and soda's and banks and a plethora of superfluous shenanigans become normal.
I don't know if this has been a natural progression for me or if I just expect more from my country after being in a country with so little infrastructure and work for its 'common man'; but one of the things that has been most upsetting and difficult for me to understand is what people are willing to do and not do for their jobs. I am having a lot of trouble understanding why a community of workers would accept not taking lunch breaks or smoke breaks or why we as a society accept how little some people are paid and how much they are expected to work. This year people had to choose between spending Thanksgiving with their families or making extra money and working at a box store so we consumers could get “good deals” a few hours earlier. WTF. I'm confused why there is so little opportunities for people to work and get paid enough to survive and why we still accept that sick people should have to go bankrupt to get the care they need. This is a whole other topic entirely but I'm also confused why people don't realize that big change takes time and is going to be messy (this is specifically in regards to the health care system that is being overhauled through the affordable care act).
America isn't so different from when I left it- sure the cracker aisle of the supermarket looks pretty different, there's more types of Arizona Iced tea but I think as a whole I feel like I'm back - capital “H”- Home. I love the Berkshires and the things the people of this community are working to achieve. I go to a monthly barter market, I've met young farmers and homesteaders, young professionals and motivated community builders, there's beautiful and welcoming public spaces and delicious restaurants with thoughtful menus, open mic nights and contra dances. It seems to me that at least here people are working towards things I value- community, sustainability, and building up local products and traditions. I love the Berkshires- to me it seems like the perfect middle ground between country and city- there's hiking, and lots of nature but there's still concert venues, an arts and entertainment industry and you can easily get to metropolitan area's by bus or train. I don't know if I'll ever truly be able to afford to live here full time- but we'll see.
I do miss Morocco a lot- I miss having my own house, I miss my town being a compact little thing that means I can walk everywhere. As much as I love having all the groceries I could want available to me all the time I miss my weekly souk and buying vegetables by the kilo and walking home with them in my hiking pack. I miss how connected I felt to people. I miss the freedom of interacting with people on my own time, instead of theirs. I miss my site mate, my stajmates, my Peace corps and moroccan friends, I miss the sunsets and the mountains and public transportation.
I do not miss doing laundry by hand, being cold inside during the winter and having to feel anxiety about how I dressed and how I interacted with men. I love the individual freedoms I have here and how I can express myself how I choose once again- I love talking about things like hetero normative values and environmental sustainability. I love the familiarity and history I have with people and old friends and how easy it is to talk to people. I love the value Americans give to independences and uniqueness and creativity. I'm totally adrift about what I want to do and how I want to fit in here long term- but I am really thankful to be home.
Here's some pictures of my last few months being home and how I feel about America:
|Beer and Iphones- AMERICA!|
|Goodnight Moon! America appreciates literature|
|individual freedoms- we have them.|
|mom and I had a table at a craft fair- we sold very little, but it was fun to be in my elementary school and see local people I used to see often.|
|New york city in the snow- pretty awesome.|
|new years day hike with good friends.|
|snow is my favorite. It is gorgeous here. I'm getting to go cross country skiing once again!|
|live music? heck yes!! Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams less then 30 minutes from my house.|