Lydia Collins - Ecuador

May 14, 2013

I am a jumble.  I am a jumble of everything and anything on so many levels.  I can’t pinpoint how I feel or why I act how I act or why I say what I say or why I blog what I blog.

I really started to jumble the night before we left Ecuador.  I said goodbye to my host family and was a mess — tears of deep sadness mixed with tears of excitement.  Soon I would see my real family…but I questioned what is a real family.  Why can’t my Ecuadorian family be my real family too?  There is love, compassion, and friendship just like in my other real family.  I didn’t know how I felt.

Then we got to Miami. I stared and gawked.  The prices were so high, the people so giant, and the bathrooms had such abundant supplies of toilet paper.  I was back, finally, in my homeland.  But, I left my other homeland.  Ecuador is my other home.  And it has land…so isn’t it my homeland?  Can one have two homelands?

At the training in the beautiful California Redwoods I had the wonderful experience of reuniting with the fellows from Senegal and Brazil.  I observed how we had changed as a group, how people matured, and how free time was spent.  We were relaxed.  We can now sit for long periods of time with little to no entertainment.

I now spend more time in my head.  I am comfortable there.  I don’t run away, afraid of what thoughts I will have.   Back in October I looked for constant stimulation, a natural aversion to the memories of home and the stark realizations of my situation. But, now I know myself.  I can control my thoughts to make them positive and productive.

That doesn’t mean it’s not jumbled up there.

“How will I re-enter American society?” I thought.  Why does the salad bar have so many dressings?  How do I greet people now?  What is happening to my Spanish?  I hope I don’t lose Ecuador.  What happens if I do?  What if they forget me?  What if college won’t be as great as everyone says it is?  My suitcase is fat.

What if, what if, what if…

I recognize that I question my decisions and myself a lot.  But I have learned to embrace my jumbledness instead of reject it.  I can only improve if I acknowledge my faults.

Now here I am.  Back home.  Sitting on my plush couch, in my comfortable living room, with a fantastic bowl of cereal at my side, and my lazy dog at my feet.  The shower pressure almost knocked me off my feet and the shiny-ness of Whole Foods left me walking around with my jaw open.  American life in all of it’s iPhone glory has left me more jumbled than ever.

That is not a bad thing.  Being jumbled means that I am thinking. I am exercising my brain more than I ever have.  I am constantly analyzing my surroundings and rethinking the patterns of life I thought were normal nine months ago.

This year taught me a lot.  About everything and anything and everyone and anyone and Evanston and Ecuador and Africa and digestion and the stars and God and corn and youth and beauty and this and that and…

Yea, I’ll leave it at that.

Lydia Collins