Well, I’m back in Ojeda. I’ve been back for a little more than 24 hours at this point, and I have to say that I almost cried as soon as I saw Costa Mall (which is about 20 minutes out of Ojeda and was my first big, familiar landmark). I think that the tears came from two places–place a) that I was finally almost done that insane day of traveling and place b) that I recognized something in this not-so-foreign-anymore place and that I was coming back “home”.
It’s been great so far saying hello to most of my friends here, and I even had a great but less-than-productive day at work today. I’m going to be working all weekend (but that’s typical) and I’m kind of excited about it, actually. As always, I’m trying to get ahead even though I can never actually get ahead. There’s always more to do.
I feel like leaving home was actually more emotional this time than it was last time, which seems weird to say. You would think that I would be getting better at this, not worse. Last time, I was so nervous that I was focusing on that–not knowing Spanish, not having friends, not being able to get toilet paper, not having as much teaching experience, the list goes on and on–that I think my fears overshadowed my sadness to be leaving. This time, since I spent three weeks with most of the people that I love, I got back into my life. I got comfortable and content and filled up with delicious American food that I won’t be able to eat for months now. It was hard to leave that sense of love and security behind to come back to Venezuela.
This sounds so stupid to say, but I really feel like Venezuela is the place that I’m supposed to be right now. I feel like I’ve grown so much in the short time that I’ve been here and that I’ve developed a much deeper appreciation for everything and everyone back home since I’ve been away. Switching between the first world and the third-ish world is an insane switch to be making all the time, and it really can teach you a lot (if you let it). The act of leaving itself has taught me quite a bit over the past few months (and particularly the past few days). For a split second, I even told myself that I really didn’t have to leave. I didn’t have to leave my best friends and my sisters and my nieces and my sick grandfather and that life. But you know what? I really did. I really did because that’s not my life right now, and that’s not me right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely the most authentically me at home. The people from home are the people who love me the most; the people who see or hear from me at my worst; the people who know every nook and cranny of my past. But the person that I was at home had different priorities than the person that I am in Venezuela does now. I didn’t have 26 students who count on me at home; I had a 7-4 job. I didn’t have coworkers who depended on me in the same way. I didn’t have the financial ability to live my life any which way I chose, which has now become a really big priority for me. I didn’t make travel as high of a priority as I do now. I didn’t have the same kind of confidence (even though we all cry at the airport sometimes and I almost had a meltdown at 4:30 on Thursday morning). I didn’t think of myself in the same way.
Now, I feel like I can throw myself into almost any situation and make it out alright. I feel like I can say what I want to say and do what I want to do (which might be a result of the lack of permanence and the continual back-and-forth of my life). I also feel like I don’t need permission from anyone to do anything. The only person I seek approval from is myself (and the occasional boy–old habits really do die hard). I already miss my family and my friends and my life, and it’s only been a day and a half. I already wish that I had chosen a job that wasn’t quite so involved as mine is. I already can’t wait to see my students on Monday morning and I can’t wait to celebrate Carnival in South America and I can’t wait to start my Spanish lessons again.
It’s great to be back, but it’s already hard to be so far from home.