The Journey Ahead

Last post – August 2019

This is the last and hardest blog post I’m going to write. We are back from Cape Town just over two weeks now. It’s crazy to try to process how impactful that year has been for each of us individually and as a family. It’s also interesting to see how we are handling re-assimilation, both individually and as a family.

Speaking for myself, the re-entry process has been difficult. It is no secret among friends and family that I would have preferred to stay for another year. While we certainly had a wonderful quality of life in Tokai and spared nothing, we just take so much for granted here in the US. We have non-stop water, electricity, access to food, clothing, supplies, every convenience we can conceive. Our stores are mind-numbingly large, with 50 different colors, shape sizes, prices, and varieties of every product imaginable. I have had to evacuate several stores over the past 10 days, overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of choice. Our serving sizes are offensive; no wonder we have such high levels of obesity. Compared to Cape Town, our cost of living is ridiculous. Food and drinks – crazy.

And yet – and yet. We are so very lucky to be Americans. While at any point in time we might not like a sitting leader or agree with certain policies, we live in a society with rules and laws and forms of government deliberately intended to be cautious and slow moving, to include checks and balances, to allow for innovation at various levels (federal, state, local) and through various branches (judicial, executive, legislative) at any one time. From our upper white class perspective, we seem to have a functioning judiciary system (again, from our perspective only). We have a functioning middle class. For the most part, the people we know pay taxes and have faith in our government to do the right thing. Even as I write this, I know that these thoughts reflect my own experiences and bias, and not all would agree with these thoughts exactly. Our country is in turmoil, with more vitriol and negativity being spewed by our political levels than at any time in history.

We are grateful that Charlotte and Luke are both coming back to new experiences, in both high school and middle school. Both are excited and nervous, with some caution and anxiety thrown in for good measure. We are grateful that they can walk or bike ride or run alone within our neighborhood and community. We are grateful that we live in a relatively safe town and can leave our doors and windows unlocked on a regular basis (although perhaps we shouldn’t). We are so very grateful to be back among loved ones with whom we can pick up as if a year hadn’t gone by. We are grateful for running water and electricity.

One moment struck it home for me how lucky we are to live in the US: Charlotte was preparing for a run. She waved her swiss army knife at me and asked, “mom, do I need to bring this?” Wow. But being home also means a resumption of the constant barrage of negativity, of drop and roll drills at schools amidst a growing acceptance of school violence, of xenophobia, of misogynism. It means a ridiculously high cost of living. It means we’ll need to work a little harder to surround ourselves with the rich tapestry of cultures and ethnicities and races that we counted among our friends in Cape Town. And on and on. There’s no right answer, and there’s no right place. It will take us a while to process all of this – and hopefully, with continued travel and a commitment to service, the journey will never end.

As we prepared to come home, our church in Milton, St. Michaels Episcopal, offered up a prayer for us. I think it’s perfect – a perfect thought, and a perfect challenge to ourselves as we look forward. Thank you for reading about our learning journey this past year. With any luck, it has just begun.

On your travels, may they be safe and guarded. On your farewells, may they be brave and loving and grateful. On your readjustment, may you have patience and be filled with the hope of all that you have gathered that will show in your life and work ahead.

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