A homecoming is many things—a return from travel with stories to tell and gifts to give, a silly high school dance to be fretted over, a celebration after long trials, greeting loved ones after a long or short absence. Over the past couple weeks I have had homecoming on my mind. First I attended our Close of Service (COS) Conference, where I greeted some volunteers after nearly two years without seeing them and saw other good friends for the last time. The topics were varied but focused on two things: saying goodbye to our communities in Peru and re-adjusting to the United States. Everyone threw around phrases like “culture shock” and solemnly asked about plans for the future.
Myself, I´ve been torn about my November leave date. On one hand, it has been far too long that I have been barefoot, curled up on the couch during a family cocktail hour, hearing the sarcasm, ridiculous stories and passionate debates that characterize our family. I miss everyone there—even my nephew, who I have yet to meet. However, going there means leaving here, where I also have people I love and a job I find challenging and fulfilling. The conference and days in Lima, spent walking, talking, shopping, dancing and generally chilling with other volunteers, helped me see some more of the appeals of going home—conversations about more than the weather, easy access to stores with fresh fruits and veggies, regular hot showers, to name a few. The week was so relaxing and enjoyable that I wondered if, for the first time, I wouldn´t be happy returning to Musho. What if I had somehow readjusted to city life?
With some apprehension over that thought, I arrived in Musho at 8, exhausted after a night bus. It was a wonderful day. My host family was so happy to see me that Edita broke her shyness barrier and gave me a hug (and then invited me to my favorite soup at lunch), my early childhood stimulation session at the health post went wonderfully, comments about the rain, where had I gone etc. were welcome and hilarious—in short, I arrived and felt like I was home.
Even in the evening, when Jesus dutiful plied the donors of the graduation party with beer (his responsibility as president of the graduation), I laughed, refused to participate, and didn´t mind at all. Home isn´t always about being comfortable or perfectly relaxed, I think, but contains some ephemeral quality that envelops you while you´re there. It is annoyance as much as affection; part of the comfort of home is the ability to be uncomfortable and still be happy. After a two-year absence, how quickly will I fall back into home once in my Stateside home?