The in between
I’ve now been back in the United States for two weeks, and while it still feels somewhat surreal that I am here, I must admit that I am enjoying this in between period between returning from Ukraine and leaving for Suriname. It is still surreal, even being back – as much as I hate to sound like a broken record when I say that, it is true. American as I am, all the way through me, I became accustomed to some things in Ukraine and every day am reminded of just how lucky we are in the U.S., for so many reasons.
I am also overwhelmed! Yesterday I went to find an ATM to make a deposit into my account. After getting to the ATM and looking around for a deposit envelope, I saw the note that said “deposit WITHOUT envelope”. Hmm – apparently, I just put my checks in. Okay. I put my card in, enter my password, choose “deposit” and put my checks in. This ATM then SCANNED my checks and added them up – I did not have to do anything except verify the deposit amount. Next it offered me my deposit receipt, no receipt, or to SEND the receipt to my e-mail address. This was too high-tech for me! When did ATMs get so smart?
Occurrences like that one – those are the ones that make me realize how much things have changed in the time I was gone – and I feel behind!
This week I am staying with my friend and her daughter in St. Paul. What a wonderful welcome I got from them! G picked me up and we went to get her daughter at dance class. When S saw me, she exclaimed “Karin!”, came running over to me and gave me a big hug. Since then she has told me many times how much she missed me and how glad she is that I am back. She also gave me a photo of her in one of her dance outfits and wrote a wonderful note on the back. It is so amazing how there are people in our lives who, when we are around them, just lead us to feel completely enveloped by love and acceptance – these two do that for me.
On Saturday I went with them to the International Children’s Day Festival in St. Paul. S, who was born on Crimea, is part of a Ukrainian dance troupe, which performed in the festival parade. They did really well, and the rest of the festival was fun too – from the butterfly tent and craft tables to the (overpriced) food (which I did not get – $4 for a small chicken fajita or hot dog was just too much) and the henna tattoos, it was a nice way to spend a Saturday with friends (and we had beautiful weather for it).
Right now, I am sitting in G’s living room, enjoying my “alone time” and playing catch-up, making arrangements for later in the week. I am trying to see friends this week, while I am in the area…though I may be in the area again later in the month.
I also miss my friends in Ukraine, but as my life did not have a real “routine” there, it is hard to say I miss that. I am also enjoying eating everything from mangoes and blueberries to salad, hummus, and all other kinds of food that I missed. I feel as if I “should” miss Ukraine, but am still enjoying my time here, and am looking forward to my next gig.
It’s also hard when I meet people (or re-meet them) and they ask “so how was it?”. That is not an easy question to answer, even when given more than the one sentence that they seem to want. I can’t just say “it was GREAT” because it was Peace Corps, so sometimes it wasn’t great. It is difficult to put into words what it is like, especially if it is a person who has never been anywhere but the U.S. How do you explain the experience you’ve just had?
Thus is my in between life at the moment. How else to explain it?