An Ocean Away

19 Apr

What do you do when you get scary news from home? You’re not prepared for it. You’re the one who signed up to live in a developing country, learn a new language, be completely out of your element—the life adventure. If it happens to you, you get a good story or your family kinda maybe expected it. But when scary, dangerous, bad things happen at home you feel blindsided. Helpless. Disconnected and unable to communicate. The tables got turned and homesickness takes over. Not that you being at home would make anything different, or better. But for some reason you feel like you should be there. Everyone wants to comfort you here, but it’s not their home they are separated from. Or worse, you break down in public and no one knows why. Whether it’s big news or small, grand scale or in the family it’s not supposed to go this way. You’re supposed to worry about me.

Even when I know everyone is safe and sound it’s like I’ve been holding my breath too long. The last exhale of relief becomes a gasp of tears turning to embarrassment and anger and all the other stages.

I haven’t cried since I got to Ethiopia. Not when I got sick, not when I got mugged, not when I was irritated by everything because of some medication unbalances. But those were my issues. I may not have been able to control the situations, but I could control the reaction. When some crazy people bomb a city I have lived in or near for over nine years of my life, the city where I became an American, threatening some of my closest friends and family, I feel like I’m living on another planet.

I woke up to a bus crash outside my house at 6:30am. No one was hurt, but it was a school bus. Pretty chaotic, pretty scary. Five minutes later I get a call from a fellow volunteer, with Boston ties, telling me what happened at an event we would have both been at, had been at for the past straight years when we lived there. I wasn’t ready for it.

Marathon Monday, it’s better than Christmas. Or it was during university. Kegs and Eggs. Now Heartbreak Hill has another shade of meaning.

When you sign up to spend two years of your life away from friends and family in a developing country, living, working, creating new relationships they warn you that you might have “FOMO” or fear of missing out. People get married, have babies, new jobs, move cities. And as much as you think you’re returning to the same place two years later there is no way that can be true. But you feel that way. So when something like this happens it reminds you that the world is turning back at home. Things did not freeze when you left, as much as you would have liked them to. More things change that are good. Some things change that are bad.

I’m lucky to have my friends and family be safe this time.  And their support while I’m here has been awesome. I don’t know what I wouldn’t do without updates and emails and letters.  And I pray that they will continue to stay safe, as I’m sure they do for me.

One Response to “An Ocean Away”

  1. apronheadlilly April 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    I can’t imagine how you must feel given your connection to Boston. We all feel terrible, but there is always a special pain for those closest. Keep safe.

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