Yesterday I arrived on U.S. soil! As I walked off the plane in Washington, D.C., I realized it was my first moment in my country since January. I took deep breaths, as tears threatened to accompany me on my walk to customs. The strength of the emotion surprised me! I hadn’t reflected much about my upcoming trip to the U.S.. Though I am excited to see family and friends, more of my thoughts so far had been about everything in Bolivia that I didn’t want to leave behind for a month.
For example, my dance group, ADAF-Bolivia, has their yearly show next weekend. It’s in Teatro Municipal, the oldest and arguably the nicest theater in the nation. I had a great time rehearsing cha-cha, samba, the Bolivian folkloric dances Tinku and Llameradas, and dance pieces about quinoa, the Amazon, and Incan history. It was disappointing to realize I wouldn’t be able to be perform.
Moreover, this coming week is when the first tubes will be installed for an improved water system in Konani. I transfered the responsibility to my co-worker, and I’m really excited that we’ll get to install these casings, an outer tube for protecting the water line, to go beneath the new paved road. But it’s still disappointing that after a year working towards this moment, I can’t be there!
After a year in Bolivia, my current life is there. My thoughts about leaving have been mostly about how hard it is going to be to drop everything for a month. That’s why I was surprised I became emotional just to be on U.S. soil again.
But of course! It’s my home. Even though Bolivia is my home right now, in a way, as well. And so I begin this month in the U.S., pondering about what “home” even means.
I’m at a conference now, trying to contain excited squeals when I tasted raspberries and blueberries for the first time in 9 months, and the great hummus they had at the welcome reception. Because of course those are normal things here, as are a hundred choices of gum at the gas station, showering with drinking water, and most people having newish cars. These things of “home” welcome me and comfort me, with some making me slightly uncomfortable at the same time.
But I settle in, for what is sure to be an incredible month. First, an International Water Conference in Oklahoma City, where I’m an invited speaker.
Then, to Idaho for the wedding of one of my very best friends. And how sweet it will be to have all our friends reunited there! Then, to Chicago and Minneapolis where I will get to catch up with and be refreshed in the presence of family and many friends. I’ll soon set dates for events in October and look forward to seeing many of you there! Until then!
Elena was just asking about you, Lauren! She keeps saying that you will be back for your (shared) birthday. It sounds like you are accomplishing so much, and adjusting so well in Bolivia. Blessings on your visit “home”.
I read your email with great interest. How wonderful that you have this experience of living in a country so different from the USA! It reminds me of my experience half a century ago when I immigrated to America. And I stayed inspire of great hardships which are outweighed by the happy events over the years.
Herzlichst – Ingrid