Wednesday, August 27, 2008

returning to voinjama

It’s been 4 months and 22 days since my return to America. Today I depart once again for Liberia. This return was not exactly planned, nor was it fully expected. I am not nervous, nor am I worried; I’ll let everyone else in my life deal with the weight of those feelings. And, although a few other humanitarian workers who have worked in Liberia have expressed mild confusion about why I am choosing to return, I am returning and I am delighted. My memories of Liberia are filled with profoundly moving experiences. There may be a variety of explanations for this domination of positive memories over negative (as I know I had my fare share of rough times), but I believe it is the origin of our species to improve memories of the past by natural selection. We filter memories just like we filter bad news and we tend to see and hear what we want, when we want. While in Liberia I was influenced in a myriad of ways. I have tried to capture this myriad in past posts, the success of which is likely left wanting, but at least I can say I have tried.

Before I head back to Liberia I would like to quickly examine my time at home. I proudly say home because I recall feeling quite confused by the concept of home when I first returned. I wasn’t sure if a nomad, like myself, could ever truly feel at home anywhere but in-between. Now I say with certainty that Colorado is indeed my home, or at least it is indeed my home, for now. During these 4 months and 22 days I was welcomed back with such warm words and thoughtful gestures it frequently moved me to tears. My last night there was no exception. While packing and thinking about how hard it was to, once again, abandon my tribe, two very special individuals came to pay me a visit and brought along with them some pots and pans. They had learned I managed to go the entire 4 months and 22 days without a single pot or pan in my possession and this troubled them. Clearly a lack of cooking utensils in my possession says something about my capacity to cook; but, it also say something about them. The gesture was to them an easy decision - they had some extra kitchenware and thought it would be nice to give it to me. To me this gesture said so much more as they very clearly were not vexed or confused about my going and they knew I would eventually be back and in need of a pot and/or a pan.

In Denver I worked hard, tried to organize my new home and rested as often as I could. I fully appreciated hot showers for approximately 37 days and then the impact of this visceral experience unfortunately wore off. I can’t recall which shower it was exactly, but there was one day when I started to step into piping hot showers only to discover or fail to consciously discover the remarkable effect of warm water on my skin. To me the opportunity to take a hot shower after months and months of cold and dirty bucket showers tops my list of re-entry activities, I miss appreciating that.

I also fully appreciated my dog, Tuesday. Fortunately for the both of us, this feeling did not wear off, even for one second. Every day I cruised home from a local jail or the office, having just completed an evaluation, excited to see her. I was welcomed home with delight every single time. I loved our walks and our car rides and our trips around town to visit her friends or to get ice cream cones. She is likely one of the most delicate eaters of ice-cream cones and I periodically enjoyed watching her do just that. The support I have received in helping care for this canine has moved me right to tears sitting here in O’Hare airport. I can’t help but cry when I think about Sherry and Laura and Kristy and Dan and Yophy and Terry and Karla and Brian and Sarah and Rick and Stephanie and Jim and Joanie and their collective willingness to help me out whenever I was about to embark on another adventure. Each one of these individuals expressed their love to me by expressing their love towards this four legged creature and I am so incredibly touched by their willingness to help. To top it off, just last week Sherry and Laura, graciously welcomed Tuesday into their beautiful Telluride home for the next couple of months. They did it out of sheer love for dogs, a little love for me and some experienced pride in my work and I feel incredibly appreciative of their act of kindness and their e-mail updates informing me that Tuesday has been dashing back and forth between their log piles hunting chipmunks as well as flirting a little bit with their youngest, yet massive pup, Wilson.

So as Tuesday and I acclimate to another brief change, I am left feeling impressed by animal and mankind alike. For dogs their capacity to acclimate is impressive and yet their time limited memory serves to prevent from the angst of ruminating. We human beings spend a significant amount of time ruminating but then again the act of acclimating is truly one of our greatest strengths. The underlying tragedy of it is we never realize exactly when full acclimation has occurred.

So in a timely announcement I am just been called to board my plane………….
Expect more tales from me soon.

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