I've titled this post "Unexpected Homecoming" for many obvious, and some not-so obvious reasons, and --bearing in mind that the introduction to any piece of writing is always the hardest-- I'm going to use the obvious reasons as a spring-board to my not-so obvious reasons.
Unexpected. It's the easiest word to describe my departure from Guinea. I was returning from a standard trip to Coyah where I saw friends, stopped by the cyber cafe, and ate random street food to make up a lengthy 12-course lunch. I rode my bike back at a normal pace listening to my obsolete iPod on shuffle to drown out the more-than-occasional "FOTE!" I wasn't knocked out of normalcy until I arrived back home and passively checked my phone while watching Monkey celebrate his freedom by chasing my neighbors chickens. It was then that I noticed my screen was filled with the ominous:
"1 Nouvelle SMS"
Numb to the intermittent messages from my boss, I opened the text assuming I'd glance over some health related warning and move on. Instead, I read the text. I read it again. I read it a third time still unsure of its seriousness but already feeling its gravity. I can't quote the text verbatim but to paraphrase: "PC Washington says time to get out." My candor on this issue is reflected in my summary, please assume that my Country Director handled it with more poise.
I could continue to write out my sad little tale with a detailed day-by-day description but I'm going to do my best to stick to the mantra I chose when I started this blog; that is, to tell you all the truth but to avoid depressing rants. Yes, the days following that text were very hard. Five days of saying goodbye and finding that it still wasn't enough? Ok, really hard, but despite the somber tone of that weekend we all managed through, because we're Peace Corps Volunteers. No matter how long ago we signed up to go to Guinea, we signed knowing that it wasn't going to be easy.
Unexpected. Once again I was surprised by the situation I was in, particularly, during the last 2 hours of my flight from Paris to Detroit. Up until that flight I had been comforted by the company of other volunteers, but once they left it was just me, sleep deprivation, and the greatest urge to time travel forward that I've ever experienced. Although the aforementioned sleep deprivation and two airplane bottles of Jack Daniels' -- always smile at your flight attendants -- knocked me out for a good proportion of that flight, my nerves keep me wide awake and jittery when the Captain announced our descent into Detroit. The rest of my journey was simple, but getting off that plane knowing that my Peace Corps service was finished seemed like a pretty daunting task.
Again, the progression of the story is predictable, which is not the theme of today's lesson, so I will jump forward once more (I guess blog posts are an instance when time travel is acceptable).
Unexpected. For a guy who knows himself to a reasonable extent, I've grown acclimated to the fact that my Mediterranean blood makes me susceptible to any range of emotions and their accompanying physical representations, i..e. I'm a man who cries. Knowing that, I've prided myself in keeping it together throughout this carnival ride of emotions, again, to a relative extent. But mon dieu! it is not at all what I had anticipated! I knew I'd be behind on pop culture references, technology, TV shows, and any number of other news-worthy topics because I left for Guinea and, despite my requests, the world didn't stop. I never thought I'd feel so far away while sitting in my childhood room. It's such a depressing sentence, I know, forgive me, but this time around I'm not on a brief vacation back home; it's a homecoming.
So as I fumble through the tangibles of "what I missed", please, please, puh-lease, give me time to catch up on the intangibles. I don't know how long it will take and I don't even know what it will take, but I'm definitely in a weird place right now. I'm comforted by food, friends, my bed and, of course, my family, but there's a lot I'm still absorbing.
To summarize, my departure was unexpected. The intensity of my nerves upon arrival was unexpected. Feeling readjustment to an anxious degree was unexpected. But you've read this far, and maybe even for the past two years, so be there when my blog posts turn into over-dramatic re-tellings, because that's expected.