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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Of Moons, Honey and Cheese

The honeymoon is over. I've been feeling slightly unsettled since the weekend and was wondering why. It wasn't a feeling of depression or the sudden need to cry, like I had felt at the 3.5 month mark and then again a couple of weeks ago. It also wasn't the feeling of not fitting in and being lonely like I'd felt when I first came. This feeling was one that reached into my bones. Then I realized what it was. It was disappointment that the honeymoon was over.

I think when you first go somewhere, you go through a honeymoon phase. Everything is brand new and exciting, you compare the great points of the new host culture to the worst points of the previous culture, whether host or home, and you walk around with slightly glazed over eyes. You see beauty where others see garbage, you are eager to volunteer to help out anytime you can, you explore your new country with a touristic vigour, and you marvel at the exotic food.

Then one day you wake up and realize--this is life. It isn't exciting anymore. It's just life. Now you see the dirt on the streets, you realize that the exotic food is like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches back home, and you get tired of exploring places that start to all look the same after awhile. The mosquitoes drive you mad, the late night laughter and talking in the dorm gets to be too much, and if you see cucumbers for lunch one more time you'll scream.

This is where the mundane becomes your reality. My reality. It is at this moment that I can decide to push the host culture away as I patriotically grip tighter to the identity I formed before. I can choose to retreat into depression and insist that I will never feel at home here even as I recognize I didn't feel at home in the country before that. Or I can shed one skin and like the chameleon, allow my new skin to reflect the light and life surrounding me.

I can resent my host culture, focus on every thing that irritates me about it, and compare it to any other culture I feel is superior. Or I can sink into my host culture and let it coat me like a mudbath, sticking so tightly that I must emerge different. This is what I want. Yet it is the toughest challenge for me to embrace.

After the honeymoon comes the marriage. The serious part. The til-death-do-us-part part. Not knowing whether I'll be here beyond the year makes it harder yet I cannot consider it an excuse. Whether this will be a short-lived relationship or long-term, I still have a calling to push past the doldrums and begin to live life as a regular person. I can still choose joy. And that I will.

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