Stop me if you’ve heard this one

I wrote an article for CFI.
It’s mostly everything I’ve already said in one post or another, but I feel compelled to share.
If you get through it, I promise colorful binders in the next post.

(On re-entry from Belize)

Doc: Hello Ms. Wilson, It’s time for your two-month check-in. How do you feel? Are you reintegrating? Adjusting well? Back to normal?
Me: Hang on. The zookeeper is trying to drag me out of the rainforest dome.

Two months ago my life was full of coconuts and lime, pick-up trucks, 90-degree days, meandering walks and dirt roads.

Today my life is filled with things it was missing in Santa Familia, like 8-lane highways and Starbucks and Fruit Loops and Grey’s Anatomy and 49 different kinds of Paul Mitchell styling products. Oh, and deliciously delicious Oreos- all of which disguise themselves as happiness.

But right in the middle is a gaping hole called “community” and another called “family” and one called “Antonia’s Kitchen” and a few more little ones called “good weather” and “sweet limes” and “dollar ice-cream cones”.

I have resigned to the fact that when I take a group of kids to the zoo, like I did on Saturday, and we walk into the Tropical Rainforest Dome, I’ll want to cry—and not just because the kids aren’t interested about the time I lived in a rainforest, but because I know in the deepest part of my heart that no matter how much money I make, or how many friends I have, or how many degrees I earn, I will never have the quality of life I had in the village for those short few months.

When I see birds or monkeys behind a cage in the zoo, I automatically think of Ronnel pointing out a toucan on the way to the sinkhole and feeding jackfruit to this little spider monkey our neighbors had in the village.

One of my favorite memories will always be that half-an-hour between dusk and total darkness when Inez and I would walk to the shop for a dollar ice cream cone or a Snickers or in search of hard-to-find flour.

Daily, those little triggers open this giant door inside called “My Other Life” and I wonder what they’re all doing there in Belize—what the weather is like, what the village gossip is. I can almost feel the sun and the breeze, the warmth, the sweet smell of coconut and campfire, and I can picture myself sitting with Ms. Mig on the back stoop peeling sweet limes.

Tonight, I’d give anything to hear Antonia’s deep laughter in the kitchen. I’d love to walk to the store with Inez. I’d love to flop down on David’s couch and catch up with Nelly.

Sometimes the best I can do is go to the zoo.


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