Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There And Back Again (email from Amy)

I'm finally coming home. Tomorrow at noon I get on a plane and fly to Taipei, Taiwan, then to Los Angeles, then to Minneapolis, where I should arrive on the morning of February 1st, almost exactly 800 days after I left for the Peace Corps. To be quite completely honest, I'm a little scared out of my mind by America. Probably you are not aware of this because most of you live there, but America is WEIRD. For one thing, you're not supposed to pick up chunks of meat with your hands and gnaw at them, taking special care to suck out the bone marrow, you can't just go out onto the road and hitchhike to wherever you're going (not safely, at least), and you're not allowed to send random small boys to do errands for you. For another thing, everything moves so fast and I've missed out on a lot of the technology (my friends here were making fun of me for not being on Facebook-so I set up an account), and things are actually supposed to BE official, not just LOOK official. Plus, I don't think I can just get people on my side by dropping a few words in Khoekhoe and smiling manically like I could in Namibia.

At the same time, I am ridiculously excited about some things- television shows that make sense (don't judge me-you haven't lived without them for 2 years), being able to buy whatever I want even if it's a Saturday or after 6 o'clock or I'm not in a major city, driving myself around, and being able to talk to people without changing my speed or accent so they will understand me.

So now I'm coming to the end of this leg of the journey and I have to figure out the next leg- readjusting to America. To answer all of those nagging questions that I'm sure I'll be answering for the next few months- "Africa" was beautiful and difficult and complicated, and if you want a deeper answer than that, set aside an hour or two (I mean, try thinking about how long you would need to answer me if I asked you how America has been for the past two years.) Nope, I am not sure what I'll be doing now, probably thoroughly ordinary stuff- trying to find a job, figuring out how to retain my health insurance, attempting to find someone willing to go out with me, plus, I suspect, lots and lots of paperwork, it is America, after all. Oh well, I suppose if I survived Namibia, I should be able to handle American bureaucracy. I intend to do some visiting soon after I get back so I'll probably see some of you in real life.

This will be my second to last update, I'll send you all something when I get to the States to let you all know that I am, in fact, not dead. As for the book update, because it's the most interesting thing about my life at the moment, I've been reading in coffee shops like nobody's business. I finished The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, and a book called The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond. I have a couple of thick books for the plane (a biography of Ramanujan, the Indian peasant and mathematical genius who basically reinvented Calculus on his own, and a book about Copernicus.) I look foreword to America, where I can find any book I want to read and, probably, have it delivered to my door within 24 hours, but I am also ending the time of my life when I have loads of free hours to spend reading and few distractions to pull me away from 8 hour marathon book-finishing sessions. These are the compromises of life, I suppose.

So, look out for me in America, maybe I'll see you there soon.

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