Lover of the light

You spin me high
so watch me as I glide

Before I tumble homeward

Mumford dominated my life soundtrack last year, this time exactly (the crash that put everything into order and perspective). So I find it appropriate to reference them again, finding their lyrics always particularly relevant. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the rest of Babel is a great album.

I’m slowly taking back control of my life. The week of adjustment returning back to the third world, I felt a lot of confusing emotions, and ones I couldn’t all process at once. Anger at being back, frustration at a culture and people NEEDING seemingly everything from me (beginning as soon as I walked off the airplane, with the pushy cab drivers), intense sadness leaving another city I fell deeply in love with (Paris), longing for my family and friends and general comfortability of life back home. All this mixed with the satisfaction and happiness at seeing my friends here, who have become something like my family, and the joy of being able to speak Malagasy again, and go to the market, and cook, and live on my own time and not someone else’s schedule.

But I’ve been working through it, and working out (which has helped a lot with post-vacay stress disorder), also trying to lose all the weight I gained eating way too much Zippy’s apple napples and chili cheese fries and drinking iced coffees everyday. Nothing I regret, but it feels nice to settle back in some semblance of the “normal life” routine, which at the moment involves a lot of supervisory field visits during the work week and hosting fellow volunteers on the weekends.

There were so many good memories made this trip.

In New York, my first stop after Charles de Gaulle, I saw previous volunteers and good friends, Natalie and Dan, who are making a beautiful life together post-Peace Corps, with a fabulous apartment in Lower Eastside. They introduced me and Sean to out-of-this-world cookie dough goodness cups. YUM. Sean and I had a nice catch-up session on swings with goat cheese cranberry wraps and a couple of fruited Blue Moons. A nice welcome back to civilization. I went on an H & M spree on basics–V neck tees, tights, essential skinny jeans. Rode the subway for the first time since Korea. Fell in love with the Big Apple, and the aloha spirit of the people.

Made my standby flight to SF. And was met by my “little cousin” Daniel, who picked me up with his girlfriend, chatting to me about his college plans. Talk about making me feel old. Spent some quality time with Aunty Molly, went to the gym and did a weight training class. YES. Got my first haircut and iced coffee in country. Met up with Mom, after a year since they came to Africa. Sent off Dan to college with a lavish Italian supper.

Hawaii. Or Maui, for a quick layover. Then Oahu finally! Oh humidity and heat. Had the best Thai food with Dad, with enough leftovers to last a week (or a day for me, let’s be serious) from my fav restaurant, Chiang Mai on South King. Took the scenic Kalanianaole, hiked up Pillboxes, and had my first acai bowl in almost two years with Anu and her awesome hubby, Sean. Went to the Kailua Farmer’s Market with my bestie, Trina, drank watermelon juice fresh from the frosted mason jar and had the best oxtail soup from The Pig and the Lady. Papaya, peaches, pears, and Greek yogurt (I think that deserves its own shout-out).  Uncle Sean’s for the UH home game and Grandpa’s birthday. Poke and chili and birthday cake, WIN. Ran the old scenic Pali highway with Mom, running into (literally) an old boss and dear friend, and made my ideal time (meaning I didn’t finish last). Celebrated my first run ever with a dip in Kailua, and the best savory crepe in Kailua, appropriately at Crepes No Ka Oi. Potted succulents for Hopie and Jon’s wedding. Lots of dirt and Starbucks. Fun! Spent the wee morning hours baking rosemary shortbread. Oh shortbread. And karaoke–downtown at the bachelorette party with the bride, and later at Turtle Bay with Grandpa. Chinatown wandering for sandalwood fans, the best ramen at Lucky Belly and dirty Chais with Jessie. Sneaking into UH’s dorm cafeteria with Shauna, and XX shop galavanting. Late night Zippy’s and pillow talking with the cousins. Morning after red velvet waffles with taro cream cheese frosting for Aunty Kim’s birthday. Beautifying with the ladies–getting our nails did, over lattes. Lava Flows with the entire extended Yano family while Uncle David played music at Turtle Bay. GANGNAM STYLE and general ridiculousness at the condos. Morning walks down Sunset beach. The beautiful wedding at Kualoa, and the fabulous bridal party limo ride leading up to it, with group shots and old school jams. Yanos dominating the dance floor (as it should be). RAP’S and s’mores in the oven. ChadLou’s for a final goodbye. A late night flight, too late and too rushed for sadness or tears. Aloha oi, amin’ny menaraka. Until next time.

And then, Paris. Falling in love with the romance and rain. These are the images I hold with me from our week there. Gabe skateboarding alongside the Seine. The Notre Dame in the morning. Sausage pasta and red wine. Good bread, cheese, and wine. The gardens at Versailles by bike. The Eiffel halfway up, and the view of it later, waiting for the lights and warmed by hot chocolate. Nuit Blanche, two hours too late. The sidewalk cafes–cappuccino drinking and people-watching. Mosque mint tea. Paella and pork sausages in the park, at the Luxembourg gardens. Fresh market perusing and Parisian hat stylings. The Louvre, on a rainy afternoon. Our last breakfast of pan au chocolate and coffee. The Hilton gym and sauna and Executive Lounge. A gray day that still made it hard to leave.

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One thought on “Lover of the light

  1. vpyoro14 says:

    Wow Char, your two week long return home summary, so nicely fitting into a 3×5 snapshot. That is talent, sister! But you know what, now that it made it’s way into your heart, you just need to pull out each one of those snapshots and remember each one of them over a nice glass of wine in the cool of the evening. What a way to keep all those memories very close to your heart. Thank you for sharing and here’s sending you lots of love and prayers your way in Ambositra. Love, Dad.

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