I have been back in the U.S. almost exactly six months now. It finally feels like home again here. For the first time I feel like I have ground under my feet that might not slip away. And like I have truly caught my breath.
Pine needles and mountain lakes and the Deschutes river. Coffee shops and book stores. Dark chocolate and microbrews. Parks and waterfalls and hikes and the ocean. Eclectic live shows with master musicians and dancers. This is home...
I have come out the other side of something. Of what, I'm not quite sure. But I feel arrived somewhere new. I think it is a place within me where multiple realities, worlds and lives are able to co-exist. It is something I feel. Not something I can explain. It is definitely a different understanding of the world: both externally and internally.
The last six months have been a whirlwind. But within this, I find it easier to catch my breath. Easier to find my center within the chaos. I think that my experience in Nepal helped me in this way. I felt sick to my stomach the first time I saw someone back in the U.S. turn on a water faucet and forget to turn it off. I could literally feel my stomach tighten and turn. It was all I could do in those first weeks to not go up to everyone I saw and say, "do you KNOW how precious that water is?" Do you have ANY idea?" This just one example of many in the ways that coming back to this world over here has not always been very easy, nor graceful.
I can now take a shower, however, and just be grateful for the water. Very grateful. I don't take it for granted any more. Just one of many. There are times when something washes over me, like a wave. It might be a memory of a place (like the shrine on the street on my way to work next to the meat shop). It might be a smell that isn't from here (like the masala or the cow poop that is too close to the side of the road). It might be a sense of understanding...of a way of going about things that just makes sense. Like taking your shoes off at the door. And having afternoon tea. In those moments, I truly miss Nepal.
At other times I am just so happy to always have electricity. To know I can walk safely wherever I want, whenever I want. And to not have to worry about a strike totally shifting all of my plans at a moment's notice.
At the end of the day, more than anything, it is the people I met in Nepal who changed me. People shared their stories with me. Their homes, and their lives. It is these stories that I carry with me. And that have become a part of me.
Thank you to all who were a part of my journey in Nepal (well, my first journey, that is. I am sure there will be more). Whether you were with me in Nepal, reading my blog from back home, or someone else I've never met. Thank you to all who read parts of my own story along the way. You have also become a part of my story. And thank you to all who have welcomed me back here at home. I am grateful.
This is surely the end of one adventure, but the beginning of another. Stay tuned.