As I may have mentioned (a couple of times), I served with the U.S. Peace Corps for two years in Peru as a Community Health Educator. It was…definitely, a thing that happened.
November 18 marks one year since I returned to the United States, so I’m writing a bit about the feelings I’ve experienced since returning home.
Did That Really Happen?
During my Close of Service conference, we were given advice on saying goodbye to our communities and reintegrating back into society. What stuck with me was a warning to stay away from superstores like Costco and a reminder that finding a job could take time. What they did not mention was that I might feel as though my entire service was a hallucination.
Returning to America meant returning to the daily life I already knew. While some things had changed (Snapchat, iPhones, apple pay), the big ones hadn’t (my loved ones, driving, social norms). This made it easy to pretend as though I’d been here all along, living my life in the U.S. It honestly wasn’t until someone asked about Peace Corps or I got to speak Spanish that I remembered; oh hey Peru wasn’t just a dream, it was my life for two years.
I’m an Outsider
I specifically remember a time at work a couple of months after I’d returned where, in a conversation about pedicures, I revealed that one of my toenails grows strangely because of a bug that had been living in it for a while. My coworkers stared as I added quickly “but it’s gone now, the doctor dug out all the eggs.”