It’s about this time you start to miss village life.
It’s not necessarily that you dislike your current life, but things were simpler then; back when you were considered a part of a moving, breathing being. And you didn't even have to do anything to be considered a cog - you just were; it was general knowledge, accepted and considered to be truth. Back when you were annoyed by the hassle of prying eyes, now realizing you’d grown fond of them – wishing they were with you to keep you company through lonely days. Were the days always so lonely or did your time in a community, with a true family, change what you consider to be normal? Suddenly you realize what independence means: it means quiet. Not necessarily peaceful, but just quiet.
I miss the sounds of my house – the children laughing, the goats bleating, the wind as it weaves its way between millet stalks and mud houses. I strove for anonymity, for privacy, simply because I was deprived of it; now that I receive it again I find myself twisting fingers and staring at toes, wishing I could have the comfort back – the comfort of knowing I’d become a piece of something bigger than me, the comfort of knowing that I earned my place in someone’s heart, the privilege of crawling into it if ever I felt the need.
This is what they talk about when they talk about returning home. I’m still in Ghana, but the home I made is more than twenty hours away in a northerly direction. Now both of my homes are far away from me and I find myself making a new one; a labored effort, I’d forgotten. I miss the dusty roads, red dirt clinging to my skin and painting me different shades; I miss the farm land and the simplicity and the fact that I could walk for hours without seeing a car; I miss that I had friends and familiar spots and people who knew me and loved me and visited me. Leaving only solidifies the lessons I learned.
Turns out I need people. Turns out I love the people I need. Turns out I love the life I lead, but will always find root in the life I led. Turns out the Peace Corps really does change you, sloughs away the skin and replaces it with something new, something cleaner and brighter and more resilient. Turns out I am a wistful son of a gun, and it turns out it’s almost Christmas.
Cheers to a new year. Never forget the old.