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Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Final Chapter

This blog has been the hardest to write. How can I sum up coming back to the United States and being with my family and all the things that seem familiar and strange at the same time?

I got a drivers license the day I came back. If the state of Utah knew the status of my brain at that time they would absolutely NOT let me drive. The urge to pilot the car on the left side of the road was overwhelming. I had to tell myself “drive on the right” several times every day. Once I made a turn and oops – I forgot my mantra and found myself on the left side. (Don’t worry, kids, it only happened once and my grandkids weren’t in the car with me.)

Food is so delicious. I keep trying to eat moderately but I feel like I DESERVE to eat all the yumminess that I haven’t had for 27 months.

The medical stuff has been a pain. I forgot how slow the layers of medicine happen. It’s all check-ups: dermatology, mammogram, and trying to figure out what bugs are causing what inside my intestines. I have a colonoscopy scheduled for Wednesday and then hopefully I’ll be done with round one. The doctors here don’t take the forms that Peace Corps issued so I wind up having to get pre-approval, then pay in advance and now I have to wait several weeks to get an itemized bill and then I’ll submit that to the Peace Corps Insurance Co. and hopefully get reimbursed. It seems nutty that you must give a hospital several thousand dollars but they can’t give you a bill.

When I walk into a restaurant or a store I am SHOCKED at how expensive everything is. My daily budget in Indonesia was $1.30. The first time I filled up the car with gas I thought there must be something wrong with the pump.

We went camping last weekend and in the morning there was SNOW on the tent….real, true, cold, snow.

Some of the things I love here are: grandkid hugs, in fact Talon is sitting on my lap as I write this, hot water, refrigeration, healthy bread, cheese, and the availability of bathrooms. I was a little skeptical of toilet paper. I mean – it’s really not that sanitary – but it’s okay, I am acting like a regular American and using it. I miss the Islamic greetings that my students give me, so I’ve taught my grandson to take my hand and press it to his forehead and say the Arabic greeting. And then I give the response. And I find I still press my hand to my heart after I shake hands with someone. Air conditioning is so wonderful and so is the ability to understand what people are saying.

Emotionally I find I’m in a cautious, contemplative place. I’m just a lot more comfortable watching than I am in engaging in life. I feel like I am being disrespectful to my friends, but all I want to do is be a grandma, love and take care of my grandkids and very slowly take baby steps back into the life I used to be a part of. It’s so overwhelming. It’s hard to remember names and things important to people. It seems familiar but vague, like I’m not sure if I dreamed my time in Indonesia or I dreamed my time here.

My daughter-in-law wants to take this blog and print it up as a book. I always wondered what my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s life was like. Now, I’ll have something that I can hand to those future generations and say – here’s what your crazy great grandma did when she was 61 – 63 years old. I didn’t bring a lot of peace to the world, but I feel like I succeeded in making a difference in an Islamic High School in a little village in a little corner of Indonesia.

So I’ll end with the prayer that we said (in Arabic) as we started each lesson:

In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful. Praise be to Allah, the cherisher and sustainer of the worlds. Most gracious, most merciful. Master of the day of judgment. You do we worship and your aid we seek. Show us the straight path. The way of those on whom you have bestowed your grace, whose portion is not wrath and who go not astray.

(Yeah, it doesn’t totally make sense, but that’s what my Peace Corps service was all about…staying committed each day even when it didn’t make sense. I have to say, it was totally worth all the growing pains it took.)

Thank you, faithful readers, for coming on this journey with me.
Oma Colleen Young