Sunday, January 17, 2010
letting myself like it here
Yesterday I talked with my friend Nira, who is still in Colombia for her third year and is planning to stay a fourth. I admitted feeling jealous of the teachers at Bolivar who stayed for longer than their initial two year contract. I spent the first couple of months here very sad that we weren't there. I missed our friends, walking up the hill to La Carulla, the birds that began calling at four in the morning, the product ladies at La14 dressed like Energizer batteries and Italian chefs; I missed our nanny, Patricia, and our school secretary, Marlene; I missed and missed and missed.
All of that missing makes it difficult to warm up to a new place. Last night I got off the phone with Nira and cried. "I think we made a mistake," I said to Justin, "a third year would have been so good for us." I don't know what would have happened with that third year. I really don't. We would have been broke. I might have improved my Spanish. We would have taken a few more trips around Colombia, perhaps made it to Cartegena or back to Tyrona on the coast. I would have gone trail running at least a few times, with Justin biking along. Claire might have latched on to a few Spanish words. Perhaps I would have done the Medellin half marathon again.
Justin assured me, "We made an okay decision." Okay!? Okay!? "A good decision," he said, mustering conviction.
Here's what I think: I think I'm afraid to like Kuwait. It's a dump. At least where we are, it is. Sand and trash. There isn't anything shiney and new or glamorous about Kuwait except for its malls. So if I say I like this place, what does that say about me?
Last week, Justin, Claire and I were out for a walk down to the littered beach, along the shore, and back. Near our apartment building, two other teachers on their way home pulled up beside us and stopped. "If you have a camera, I'll take your picture," Monica said. Before us was a line of palms, the setting sun. And all I'd been noticing until then was the trash underfoot. Perhaps I need to look up more.
And perhaps I need to give myself over to living here in Kuwait. Knowing that leaving after two years is emotionally and logistically difficult, we're staying for three or four, maybe five. There are people here that stay for six or seven years. One woman I know says that she and her husband are "lifers." I don't think we are lifers here in Kuwait, but I do think that I need to be done feeling sad about leaving Colombia and I need to let myself like living here in Kuwait.