From London we flew to JFK where Suzanne’s mother Nelda picked us, to drive to her childhood home in Connecticut. She had the car stocked with provisions so we didn’t miss a moment in getting reinchiperated, almost cleaned out 2 pound bags of both Lays and Doritos.
People kept asking what was the first thing we wanted to do when we got back, “You mean after landing safely?” Well, I think for each of us it was different things. For the kids, getting some of the comfort foods, watching TV, reuniting with their gameboys. So we’ve had pizza, US-McDonalds (the UK just wasn’t the same). For me, it was not loosing what had happened to me in Ghana.
It took us exactly two days to complete the top 10 list, the last thing being a visit to Wal-Mart, and going to see the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. My kids seem to love those movies, all they do is make me feel old, it’s a complicated plot that I can’t seem to generate the passion to follow.
Anna turned 12, and we celebrated her birthday by going strawberry picking. I don’t think anyone was thinking clearly because we ended up picking 20 quarts (and who knows how many quarts were “field tested” and never made it to be weighed). “Are you guys making preserves?” the girl asks, implying that we were buying plenty, and that is when it hit us, how are we ever going to eat all these strawberries?
* Congested traffic flows a lot slower / people obey the traffic laws, roads are incredibly smooth, cars don’t pump out blue smoke, and are automatics.
* Its COLD and dry, and we can wear the same cloths multiple days.
* We have to pump our own gas.
* Some things are expensive / and you can’t bargain, Oh! That is too much!
* The internet is really, really fast.
* Everything is so clean, and working.
* We’re not the only obrunies (there are white people EVERYWHERE!)
* Paris Hilton news, EVERYWHERE!
The shift from unfamiliar to normal did not take as long as I expected, or even hoped. By the third day I was looking around at all this, we I seemed to fit into it, Ghana was fading. Walking around the Crystal Mall in Waterford, CT, Suzanne was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff to buy, new. “I want to buy it all,” she says, but then adds “I am so overwhelmed, I don’t know what I need.” So we walk away, which I figure had got to be good. The kids were amazing. I had visions of them just loading carts full of stuff, stuff wanted from a year of not having a choice, but they didn’t. They were careful about what they picked, it was what they needed. New shirts, jeans and shoes. The shoe selection was great, name brand non-counterfeit shoes. I wish we had thought to take a picture of the six month old shoes that Fox wore home, which couldn’t have lasted another day. Never mind he had three pair that were virtually new, that he had taken to Ghana, but didn’t fit his image.
So How was Africa?
I think Tatum had it right in what she wrote in her blog about catching up with friends [the funny things], in how do you catch up on a year? For me it is especially weird because for many of people I was close to, the relationship has changed in this past year. There is a distance, and I’m not sure if it comes from me (imagined), or the relationship change, or how I have changed, or its been a year, and we don’t know where to begin.
“So how was Africa?” they ask, and I wonder how do you sum up a years worth of experiences, of people, of light off, fufu and groundnut stew, into one sentence. Then they learn we’re headed back for another, and there is that mix between abandonment and astonishment; why would anyone want to do that?
And then if things were not crazy enough, we’re selling our house, which means moving out all the stuff we should have moved out last year, but we were only going to be gone a year. This was the perfect house for us, at least we thought so. It was to be the last house, until our kids left for college, so I think we kinda went overboard fixing and filling it up. See in the last 10 years we’ve moved 5 times and lived in four different houses, and so we ought to better at moving than we are. I think because this was to be our last house we settled, and hard. And last year it was leased to a wonderful man and his wife, who pastored my former church, and so we just chucked all our stuff up in the attic and bonus room, because we were only going to be gone a year, and now we’re having to deal with it.
I wonder if that stuff is a good metaphor for last year’s unresolved issues in my life, and maybe that is why people seem to be acting weird. People tell me that last year was a hard one, and now it seems as if, on the way out town, I must have tossed all these emotionally charged issues up in attic where I wouldn’t have to deal with them. But now we’re back and all that stuff I hadn’t dealt with is still there, all those bumps and bruises that happened in my wake outta here. All I know is that I’m sorry, how I wish I could do it all over again, at least knowing what I know now, figure out a way to say good good-byes instead of just blowing out of here.
So we’re here for a few more weeks, to pack up, lease and most likely sell our home, and then see what is next, that is after returning to Ghana, because we’ll only be gone a year.
One of the things I noticed is how many flowers there are, so I’ve been snapping them, and posted some of the better ones: