I’m Afraid of America

I’m terrified of going back to America. I’m scared of becoming complacent. I’m scared that I might actually think about donating money to a charity. I’m scared of driving. I’m scared that I will scream at someone because they complain about something mundane. I’m scared of gaining weight. I’m scared of processed food. I’m scared of having a job that isn’t satisfying. I’m scared I won’t feel fulfilled. I’m scared of sticker shock. I’m scared of cold weather. I’m scared of having to resettle. I’m scared of money. I’m scared of politics.

For two years, I’ve lived in my comfortably harsh bubble. I’ve become accustomed to eating the same six things: banku and groundnut soup, kenkey and pepe, egg sandwiches, tuna salad, popcorn, and spaghetti. I’ve learned to enjoy the simple life of latrines, walking everywhere, and bucket baths. I don’t mind three hour long tro rides to go just 100km. I don’t even mind 8 hour trips to the capital. Air conditioning makes me cold and I’d rather sit outside in the hot sun chatting with the neighbors than watching a movie. Food tempts me too much and I know that as soon as I get home the pounds will begin to stick nicely to my squishy parts.

Honestly, I’m just scared of leaving. I never been unemployed before and searching for jobs is difficult when I know exactly what I want to do, but I either have to wait for the stars to align or fight tooth and nail. I’m scared of leaving my job. As I continue to say, despite the low points and illnesses, I’m still very happy with my service. My primary project was a dream project. I’ve learned so much from the successes and the many failures. Even yesterday, I had to say goodbye to my SAP contact, Carsten, and I fought back tears. This project has been my life for two years and Carsten’s been there conference calling me through it. I don’t want to leave this project, I simply don’t. Giving it up and handing it over to another PCV is like handing your baby up for adoption – I’ve nurtured and cared for this thing for two years, take good care of it, so be a good parent and don’t screw it up!

I’m losing everything again, just like when I left for Peace Corps.  I’ll leave a piece of me behind in Ghana, as everyone does. It’s time to start again on a new adventure, but not before I give myself time to reacclimate to American life. I’ll need time at a grocery store to not freak out over choices. I’ll need time to relearn how to drive. I’ll need time to cope with first world problems. I’ll need time to learn how to be polite again. I’ll need time to merge my Ghanaian self with my American self without hissing, yelling, or generally degrading someone’s religiosity in order to get past the greeting stage.

But most of all, I’m terrified of losing the knowledge I gained during these two years. The knowledge of how to get by on so little and how to be happy no matter what comes my way. The knowledge of how to find fulfillment.

Please America, don’t let me lose myself. 

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