Sunday, April 7, 2013

Still Okay

I remember arriving here, exhausted and excited, nearly four months of unknown hovering in front of me. Now I sit here, looking back on my experience, with less than a month ahead of me. Less than twenty days exist between me and a plane back home. When I first arrived I had a thought- that this experience would not last very long- but in those first few days, it felt like I would never go home. 
Even a month ago, I still felt like my life had gotten caught in some weird dream state, where the familiarity of home was a distant memory and I was stuck here in this strange and beautiful place. Now my time is ticking away. The end rushes forward like a strong wave, and I can see it approaching, ready to spirit me hundreds of miles away.

I’m torn. I want to go home. So badly do I want to go home. I miss my friends and my family. I miss my long skirts and my girly shoes. I miss kissing my dog’s nose goodnight. But I don’t want to leave. I don’t miss them yet, but I will miss my little sisters and my host mom. I will miss Xinia’s tired ‘¿Como almeneciĆ³?’ when I finally crawl out of bed. I will miss fumbling my way through a conversation with my littlest sister as she giggles and corrects my Spanish- ‘Cuchillo. Es hombre.’ I will miss the flora and the fauna and the mountains and the forest. 

I will come back. Throughout my experience here, whenever things got hard or I got blindsided by homesickness, I consoled myself with the thought that I would be going home. Now, I’m comforting myself with the thought that I will be coming back. I will come back, and Maria Jose won’t have any more baby teeth. Camila will be in college. Xinia will still make fun of me for wanting egg sandwiches.
Though it did happen, rarely did I ever really feel cut off from home. I was welcomed here with open arms and the classic Tico-cheek kiss. Like going off to college for the first time, this has been another puddle for me to wade through. The water was a little murky at first, but things cleared up pretty quickly and life went on. I lived my life and took advantage of everything Costa Rica could offer me.

I was struck the other day with how far I am from home and how long I’ve been gone when I got handed six dimes. It had been the first time I had paid for anything with American cash since Panama. I accepted the change without preamble, thinking only that the coins I immediately shoved in my pocket felt tiny and light. When I pulled the shiny silver coins from my pocket later, I was startled to find that they weren’t some strange new colon. They were dimes. Just dimes. It was like picking up an old toy after so much time has past- their weight should have been familiar, but it wasn’t.

I have had a real adventure here. Things have been gritty and sweaty and hard, but that’s what makes it so interesting and worthwhile. I’ve seen and done things I never thought I would. Yesterday I threw myself off a bridge and trusted my life to a bungee cord. A few weeks ago, I travelled this country accompanied only by friends and a sense of adventure. We keep talking about how everything back home will be easier now that we’ve done this. 

I have no lingering fears of traveling alone, of being lost with minimal language skills. I can get around by myself. I can make friends no matter where I am. I can be away from everything familiar and still be okay. 

And in spite of everything- or perhaps because of it- I am still okay.

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