Wednesday, July 31, 2013

As Free as My Hair

There are days in my desert town where I long to wear a short skirt, put on mascara and drink a beer in public. Now, unless I want to be perceived as a prostitute, that's never going to be my reality in Tazarine. Volunteers spend so much time thinking of the material items we miss that at times our simplistic lifestyle feels more like a prison than a choice. We list the food and technology that would make our lives better, daydreaming about things in the pursuit of happiness. If only it were so simple.

Vienna and Berlin provided all the Western-made satisfaction that a girl could ever hope for. Food, drink and freedom galore! We spent days shopping, going to the movies and relaxing with friends. With a new haircut, facial and Chanda's wardrobe, I felt prettier than I have in months. Better yet, I could start everyday with an intense bike ride and run through my favorite city park. All this to the beat of David Guetta while floating by in my tank top and shorts. This is the life I miss.

When you've been through an intense trauma or loss, the brain often shuts out large parts of the experience in order to protect itself. Faces, dates and details may be lost forever, or at least until you are safe enough to deal with the event. At times I feel like my brain longs for the material world as a safety measure. If the mirage of stuff is taken away then I am left with the realization that the loss has little to do with not being able to wear my favorite wedges. My craving for cookies n cream ice cream is a sign that I miss vegging with Christy, oatmeal stouts remind me of endless happy evenings with family at Founder's Brewing and that perfect dress is full of memories of the person who I intended to wear it for. No number of cocktails on the beach can make up for the distance, although it's always worth a shot.

Back in Morocco, life continues where I left it. The hair is up (although the bangs look great), the legs are covered and Ramadan keeps the weekends dry. Thankful for three consecutive weeks of family and friends, new and old, the material cravings haven't yet kicked in.

Leah and I brilliantly decided to ease the transition with some hiking and sight-seeing in Chefchaouen, an idyllic mountain backpacking town in the North. Sharing our experiences with fellow travelers has been the perfection reintroduction to Peace Corps life and a solid reminder of why we stay here, despite the sacrifices. Yesterday's adventure included a spectacular four hour hike and diving into stunning waterfalls - I wouldn't trade it for anything, right?

So the next time I complain about missing my jewelry or dramatically burst into tears at the distance between myself and some decent futo maki, keep in mind that I just miss you. Me, you and a world of possibilities. As international male model, Hansel, would say, "It's so simple."

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