.... and tomorrow will be harder.
After I finished sorting and cataloguing the books in the library at the school, I interrupted the training session that my colleagues were having in preparation for their certification exam in a few weeks. It was time for me to say goodbye. All the ladies hugged and kissed me -- several with tears in their eyes. The lump in my throat pushed its way up and blocked any words from escaping my lips. I could only nod in agreement as each precious friend took my hands, kissed me, looked me in the eyes, wished me well, and said goodbye. When I finally found my voice, with tears in my eyes, I told them all how much I love and appreciate them. They made me promise to come back again, at least to visit. Lika walked me out of the building. Our teary goodbye happened at the front door. Then, for the last time, I walked out of the school building, through the front gate, and up the road to Tea's house.
Tea had left me several things to do today. We'll be having a suphra tomorrow before I go to the train station, and since she had to be at her training session all day long, I cooked in preparation for the suphra. I know my way around the kitchen well enough now that I can do the cooking with no problem. Several times throughout the day, "Our Grandmother" or Koba popped into the kitchen to see what I was doing. As I sliced up veggies, shredded carrots, fried eggplant, peppers, and carrots, they smiled.
When the preliminary cooking was done, I collected the dirty dishes from all over the house and took them out to the outdoor sink to wash them. I don't think I'll ever again be surrounded by so many animals while washing dishes.
After I had cleaned and straightened up everything that I could in the lower house, I went to my room in the upper house. I stood in the middle of the room looking around as if lost. I needed to start packing, but somehow, I couldn't bring myself to do it. As I stood there, wondering what was wrong with me, I realized that I have come full circle. Just before leaving the U.S., I read John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley. In one of my very first posts in this blog, I quoted a passage from the book. It had to do with not wanting to leave what is familiar and comfortable for the unknown. Don't get me wrong -- I want to go home. But is really hard to leave.
I certainly prefer my lifestyle that is possible in the U.S., but I have grown accustomed enough to village-life to feel comfortable here. Nothing surprises me anymore. I have adapted to the culture and lifestyle. I am loved, appreciated, and accepted (mostly!). And now, I am going to start the cycle all over again...... culture shock included.
I finally pulled out a backpack and started the process of packing.