1. No one unashamedly stares at you as you walk by
2. There is more than one option for the flavor of your coffee, and the size of your coffee and the darkness of your coffee!
3. There is no dirt under your fingernails after a whole day away from your house
4. Your hair is staticy and skin dry from winter dryness
5. You understand everyones English
That's right folks, I'm in America! I officially COSed (close of service) and became a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer on the 29th of March 2011. I have successfully completely my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It was an incredible 2 years of self-discovery, fun adventures, deep friendships, memorable events and life perspective changing. I am eternally thankful for the opportunity I had to live and love in Uganda and I will forever be affected by this experience.
My leaving Uganda was a hard decision and not one I particularly wanted to do but needed to. When I decided to move back to the States I needed to have something fun to look forward to. So I decided to surprise my friends and family. I let my parents in on this and we worked out plans to make it all happen. I flew into Minneapolis/St. Paul around lunch time where I was greeted at the airport with a fresh hot cup of coffee, many warm layers of winter clothing and beaming parents. They drove me to see one of my best friends from growing up at her work. Her office is near the door and she saw me coming. Soon the office door flew open and Ashley came hurrying out with arms wide open exclaiming, "Is this for real?" And followed by her husband saying, "I didn't expect to see you today." We went out for lunch with them and all continued to look at one another in semi-disbelief. It all felt so normal and yet unreal.
Next, we headed over to my sister and brother-in-law's place. Erik, my wonderful brother-in-law, was in on the surprise and let us into their apartment to wait for Ash to come home from work. We drank coffee and caught up on life while waiting then hid along the wall to surprise Ash. She couldn't believe I was there! Of course one of my first observations was that she was wearing my scarf and had my vest. Little sisters are always stealing older sisters clothes and they think they can get away with it! That's why surprises are good - you catch them red handed:)
My mom had set up a Skype date with my sisters Melissa in California and Angela in Israel. We all gathered around Ash's computer and she logged on. I hid out of the cameras view and after greeting the girls Ash said she wanted them to meet her special guest. Now, Angela was hoping to see a new baby that Ash and Erik would have adopted since she's dying to be an aunt and Melissa was thinking it might be a cat. They were both wrong and I slide into view. Their shocked expressions and tears were priceless.
Mom, Me, Ash and Dad
I feel very welcomed home. I was given my favorite coffee at the airport, Mom and Ash made delicious gluten-free pizza for dinner, there were fresh flowers in my room and mints on my pillow. Thanks to Ang and her quick facebook update, I also received several calls and e-mails from friends who saw her say I was home. The ease and speed of communication is something I'm going to have to get used to again. And so, life in America begins. This is the life I have always known. My life in Uganda was different. But Uganda did change me. I'm not sure how it'll all play out but America, let's go!