Jet-lag has been vanquished, but I’m still making those last lingering adjustments to post-expat re-entry. (you know, finishing up the spontaneous incineration of the ablative heat shield, also known as “trailing clouds of glory . . .”) So far, I’ve been to Trader Joe’s, the Library, Macaroni Grill, and even (gasp!) Wal-Mart. But I didn’t actually buy anything at Wal-Mart. So does that make it O.K.?
I still don’t have a good short answer (or even a good long answer) for the ubiquitous question, “where are you from?”
I’m not sure what to do about that. Lately I wish I had something prosaic to say, like Wisconsin or Palo Alto. Something that wouldn’t involve explaining Italy, let alone what I’ve been doing for the past eight months in a little post-revolutionary Muslim country in Africa. Because I’m tired of trying to explain my life and inevitably seeing myself reflected in other people’s eyes as something unspeakably inexplicable and exotic. They’re not sure what to do with me, and I’m not so sure what to do with myself either.
Things are getting better, though, a little at a time. At present, Tony and my dear mother-in-law are taking care of my sweet children while I spend a week at my absent parents’ house in Woodland. Yes, for the third time in the past five years, my parents have bought plane tickets to see us, and we have moved before they arrived. In fact, I’m afraid we’ve reached a new low. This time it was tickets to Tunisia, and we left a bare two weeks before they were to arrive. Embarrassing, I know. They are, however, presently enjoying London and Spain, and are still, incredibly, on speaking terms with me.
I’m getting back on speaking terms with myself too. After two days here alone, I finally was able to sit down and write some feelings and analysis of what’s going on in my head. It’s amazing what some time away from everything can do. Felicitously, my time away included the evening of the L.D.S. General Relief Society Meeting, an annual inspirational event by my Church’s women’s organization. In company with every other woman with whom I’ve discussed the meeting subsequently, I felt like Dieter F. Uchtdorf was speaking straight to me. Even if you’re not Mormon, you might find the 20-minute address I linked to inspiring and uplifting. He summarized his five key points thus:
It’s hard to explain, but as I listened to his words, and as I have reflected since, I have felt life open up again for me. My goals seem a little more attainable, my problems a little more manageable, and my thoughts a little brighter. I guess the sun is finally starting to shine through.