After two years in South Africa there’s a lot of little bright spots about being back in the U.S. Sometimes I stumble out of my really tough workouts and catch myself complaining about them and then I flashback to me trudging around a dusty orange “track” or racing the cows up a farm-lined road towards some silos and I am grateful to be sore.
Sometimes the heat in the yoga studio is too high, but at least it’s not the interminable baking of the South African sun on a flat tin roof, relentlessly ensuring that I am always in a room ready for bikram.
Sometimes I grumble about traffic, but then I remember that even with gqom tumbling from my speakers, I am lucky not to be in a taxi. I am privileged to have the ability to go where I please, when I please, without the presence of someone else’s baby on my lap or drunk men staring at me.
Here in the bay area I jump from one activity to another, working a job that pushes me to engage with children from around the world, continuing to develop my cross-cultural and language free communication skills for those who lack English, but I also countdown to my next adventure.
I yearn for the next chance to break out of my comfort zone, to feel at ease when surrounded by the blur of new music, waves of voices in another language and the stressful joy of maneuvering public transport.
I attend film screenings from Sub-Saharan Africa and head to the Museum for the African Diaspora longing for a connection to the place that was my home. I obsessively watch Instagram stories from friends who are still serving, savoring the delicious roll of the South African accent and the unparalleled dance moves performed by learners.
I am still deeply lost between here and there, here and everywhere. I have felt this loss before, though not quite so intensely, upon leaving my homes in Brazil and Chile. It’s tough knowing that it could be years before I return, that just as with other places that I’ve called home the culture will change, the people will grow older, and the South Africa I knew will not remain etched in stone.
And so for now I focus on the small things that bring me joy in this new place I call home, an addition to the endless list of places that render me incapable of answering the basic question, “where are you from?”. I go to yoga, I eat salads and sushi and all the goodies I missed while abroad, I hike and bike, stream Netflix and catch up on movies I didn’t know existed, I snapchat excessively, prepare for the upcoming school year, continue to read inordinate amounts of books, and unchanging from one of the big actions that pushed me through my Peace Corps service, I continue to plan trips and big events to look forward to.
At the end of this month I’m headed to Colombia (and very briefly to Panama) because my passport was starting to feel neglected after a few months on break and because if I don’t set a personal precedent of travel being a priority now then it’s unlikely to happen later.
So two months out from service I’m chilling in this strange crevice. Basking in the joy of all the things I couldn’t have or do in South Africa and yet eager to go somewhere far away and different.
If you need me, I’ll be here, belonging nowhere, everywhere, and most likely reading a book.