Sunday, September 12, 2010

the america experiment

After about two years on the road, I'm back in America, feet [sort of] firmly planted on the meticulously organized and clean sidewalks of Our Nation's Capital. I'm awestruck by the things around me - the apparent mainstreaming of skinny trousers and leggings, funny toe-less boots (huh?), and the complete proliferation of hand-held technology. I was dismayed the other day, on my way to buy slouchy ankle boots in Dupont Circle, at my inability to two-thumb text/gchat/email on my LG Ally while walking with a coffee in my other hand. I suppose in a couple of months I'll be longing for the simplicity of a tank top, flip flops and my circa-1992 Ugandan-dirt-stained Nokia phone.

But for now, I'm happy just soaking up all things American. Sick of airplanes, I decided to take the Amtrak up to Boston for the Fair Trade Futures Conference this weekend. I reclined the seat, pressed my forehead up to the glass, gazed at the marshy beaches of the somewhere-north-of-Delaware, and started to reflect.

The sheer enormity of change in 2010 put a damper on reflection - one of my favorite hobbies. Perhaps some years are all about reflecting (2008) while others (2009, 2010) are all about moving.

This year has been filled with dramatic movements - first the circumnavigation of Lake Victoria, then the shifting earth in Haiti. And then working in Pakistan. March. April. June. July. The intoxicating dance of being completely on your own in a place that is completely new.

In July the unthinkable occurred - my Mom and Dad came to Africa. Seeing them take in my Uganda felt like an invisible hand sewing up the giant crevasse that my work there had created.

dad, lucy, me and mom in lucy's new house in gulu.

Summer 2010 wrapped up with a magical eggplant- and kilim-shopping-filled trip to Istanbul, and Danny's turn to climb Kilimanjaro.

hank and neilos - do we really have to leave?

Before I knew it, we were packing up Henry and Neilos and saying tear-filled goodbyes to Aisha, our housekeeper, who had become my best friend. We sat at a goodbye dinner amongst our closest friends, with twinking candlelight and bottles of wine, and had to remind ourselves over and over again that this time we were the ones leaving.

For Danny this America experiment is a mere stopover to learn a new language before his South American adventure begins in April. For me, it's a homecoming. As fall approaches, so too does my penchant for slow, quiet music and forehead-pressed-against-the-glass reflecting. I suspect that in the coming months, it will be about much more than skinny jeans and fancy phones.