It is now going on one week since I departed India. It feels so distant, but I keep thinking I will wake up and be back there. For most of you, it probably seems like I wrote a lot, but I already wish I could have written more about every moment so I can cherish it forever. Accompanied by words or not, the memories are still with me, and I know that just like last time they will never fade away.
We never had a group dinner my last night, but for the volunteers it is traditional to say what you will take with you as you depart on your last night….I was thinking about it a lot and while I will take so many things with me, the most profound is this:
I knew I would be happy to be back at the school but there was a slight apprehension of whether the experience would be what I expected. I try to have limited expectations so my experiences are not tainted and everything turns out the way it needs to, but my first 3 months in India really set a new course of action in motion for my life. That is a pretty big deal. And though I was not nervous about re-visiting the school, I wasn’t sure how I would feel all around about everything – would I just be trying to recreate an old experience, had things changed so much, had I not remembered it correctly at all? However, any concerns were immediately cast aside. The biggest thing I took from this trip was being absolutely certain that this type of work is a part of me. I felt home the minute I found my ride at the airport. In all the chaos and confusion, to the loving hugs of the children, to all facets of the teaching I was doing….this was me.
I’m not saying the experience was the same, in fact in very profound ways it was different. But it was amazing to have personally grown parallel to the changes. I did not feel for a second I had diverted onto a different path. There aren’t many moments in life when you get such a clear message that you have followed the right course. I do not doubt I could have made a lot of different decisions in my life (of course I could have) but I still felt that I had ended up in the right place.
Perhaps that was why it was so easy to get lost in the experience this time and why it has been a tad hard to pull away from it. It is getting a little better, day by day, but for half a moment when I wake up I still think when I open my door there will be a flash of heat and I could walk outside to the hustle and bustle of volunteers making breakfast and lunch in the kitchen, that there might be a goat strolling around, and that I am only moments away from hearing any one of hundreds of familiar voices shouting my name or an “Auntie” across the field from the school.
It doesn’t mean I do not love Norway or the many people I was so happy to see when I returned here this week. It’s just a little case of jet lag of the heart, as I termed it the other day. I miss my roommate, I miss the kids, I miss dancing with them and sweating beyond belief….but I am also so happy to be back with dear friends I have made in Norway, see the constantly beautiful country, and have the comforts of home. Why aren’t we able to simply snap our fingers and go from one place to the other?
Just like normal jet lag though, I am adjusting. I am able to absorb being present a little bit more and I know that I will be back in India later if not sooner. I am super lucky this time around to have had my amazing roommate Sara who gives me daily updates and let’s me feel a part of the experience. While I wish I could share them in person, it certainly does ease the transition. So does looking at hundreds of photos and videos….I finally went through and made a complete album. While most are covered throughout the blog, if you want to check them all out in one place, here you go!
I will probably continue to share lingering thoughts about India along the way, but I promise to relate to Norway soon as well as keep updates as I start my next adventure to Eastern Europe this weekend.