Double Life

7 May

I just got back from an amazing vacation in North Carolina where I spent ten days eating delicious food, drinking amazing craft beer and wine, browsing the internet at my finger tips and most importantly celebrating my cousin Allie and Cliff’s wedding.

Rehearsal dinner at a vineyard

Rehearsal dinner at a vineyard

Cliff and Allie

Cliff and Allie

Photo booth at reception

Photo booth at reception

Volunteers always joke about how hard it is going to be to adjust back into American culture—how we are going to be the people that everyone stares at on public transportation as we greet fellow commuters with salutations or scrunch our noses instead of asking for clarification or even worse, hissing for a waiter’s attention. While, I admittedly, have lost some of my social graces, it is actually a lot easier to slip back into life in the United States than one would think. I guess at the end of the day, I have lived there for the majority of my 27 years.

The only other time that I have been back to the US during my service was last June when I went for a whirlwind trip for my grandfather’s funeral. The focus wasn’t on me or my Peace Corps experience and most definitely not on next steps. This trip was different. I only have five months left in country, everyone was curious about what is up next. I dodged some questions, embraced others in making post-Peace Corps plans and even daydreamed about my new apartment in Spanish Harlem.

Ten days came and went too quickly and I left America feeling weird—sad that I won’t be able to spend any more time with my sister and her kiwi boyfriend during their three month holiday but also emotional arriving back to the island to finish up my last 150 days of service.

All of these feelings faded away as soon as a hopped in the taxi and starting speaking Spanish to the driver with bachata music playing in the background. I wasn’t even fazed when I learned that I wasn’t going to be able to return home that day. There was a strike in my town and the road from the pueblo to La Lima was completely impassable with burning tires and blockades of palm trees.

Striking

Striking

As I waited at a bus stop the next day to go home, I ran into a Haitian man, Miguelito, who I met a few months back while building a stove at a house where he works. He and I quickly fell into conversation catching up on life and both boarded the bus home. They charged him double fare and when he questioned it, the only response from the driver was that he is Haitian and if he wants to stay on the bus, he pays double. I sat in silence. Debating whether to speak up. I convinced myself that it was not my battle to fight but then felt disgusted at my inaction. Did ten days in the south turn me into someone who bites my tongue and doesn’t stand up for what I believe in?

I finally arrived in my town unsure of how I felt to be back there. I walked to my house, opened the door, looking around for Effie, my dog, even though I know I left her back in NC at my parent’s house. I sat down on my couch hoping for a few minutes to unwind. This turned into only seconds as my door swung open to all of my neighbors greeting me with hugs, rice and beans and questions about my family and trip. I immediately fell back in the grove of things in the campo—watering my garden, doing yoga and eating dinner up at Elcida and Rafael’s. As much as I loved my trip home, I realized that this life I’ve created here, fits too.

Happy adoption anniversary, Effie!

Happy adoption anniversary, Effie!

 

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One Response to “Double Life”

  1. Susan May 7, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    Happy for your safe return. I know your DR family missed you terribly! I know how they feel! XO!

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