This isn't some fun crazy new adventure anymore. It's just my life. This is my new normal. Although it's definitely still fun and crazy.
It's normal for me to exclaim "ayy halaaaa" instead of "oh my gosh" when something startles me.
It's normal for me to live half my life in one language and half in another.
It's normal for me to recall that my friends and family back home are just waking up when I'm going to sleep.
It's normal for me to hop in a pedicab and pay exactly 9 pesos to get anywhere I need to go in town.
It's normal for me to walk into my favorite coffee shops to be greeted by: "hi, ate! The usual?"
It's normal for me to have bumps and bruises from getting in and out of pedicabs.
It's normal for me to take freezing cold bucket baths every day. (Hot showers are a rare and beautiful gift from the baby Jesus himself)
It's normal for me to carry toilet paper with me everywhere I go, because public restrooms do NOT store it.
It's normal for me to not flush toilet paper because the plumbing system here just can't handle it.
It's normal for me to hear roosters crowing 24 hours a day.
It's normal for me to see chickens, goats, cows, and carabao on the side of the road.
|I CONSIDER THIS A MOST EXCELLENT THING.|
It's normal for me to hang out at places with the "best" (that's a relative word) WiFi because I don't have 3g and can't get online at any time.
It's normal for me to sleep with a fan blowing directly on me and still waking up sweaty because LOL NO I do not have air-conditioning at my house.
It is normal for me to eat chicken on a stick with rice (with my hands) on a pretty daily basis. I'm an addict, what can I say.
It is normal for me to eat rice with 80% of my meals, although if my Filipino friends had it their way it would be 100% of them.
It is normal for me to sweat ALL. THE. TIME.
It is normal for me to walk into oncoming traffic and just hope that they don't hit me. It's pretty much the only way to cross the street.
It is normal for me to speak my English the way Filipinos speak English, with a slight accent and LOTS of inflection. You'll have to call me if you want to hear this, it's pretty funny.
It is normal for me to see babies on motorcycles.
It is normal for me to pray with a large group of people before every single event. Movies, boat rides, a normal weekday morning… anything. To quote my sweet friend Kim Statler, "I don't know about y'all, but this [Presbyterian] is gonna pray!"
It is normal for me to text my friends from my 1992 Samsung phone.
|Really. This is my actual phone.|
It is normal for me to see people begging in the streets for me to give them money.
It is normal for me to be stared at constantly because of the color of my skin. (Try as I may, I'm just not *that* tan.)
It is normal for me to be a minority (especially as a white woman).
It is normal for me to have a life that feels a bit like a musical. Cafe-wide singalongs are a pretty regular occurrence. And yes, it's awesome.
It is normal for me to be surrounded by the world's cutest babies. I mean this. Filipino babies are the ACTUAL CUTEST CHILDREN ON EARTH. Sorry, everybody else.
|This is Cielo. She's 3. I'm going to eat her one day. Very very soon…|
|I MEAN REALLY?|
|My nuggets Jana and Roswell.|
|And the Holy Grail of cute, my goddaughter, Neka.|
It is normal for me to count down the days until I get back to my "old" normal. (137 days, FYI)
(BUT) It is (ALSO) normal for me to be completely and utterly terrified about going "home" and what on earth that might look like.
It is normal for me to wonder if anywhere will really ever feel like "home" again.
All of these things are normal for me now. I'm in a weird sort of limbo with half my life in the US and half of it here. (Arguably, much of it is also in Uganda and Kenya)
I just want you to know that this is okay.
We're all just stumbling through this crazy life together. I'd be willing to bet not a one of us has a damn clue what we're doing. The ones asserting that they do probably have even less of a clue what they're doing. We're all just doing the best we can.
We're creating stories. You all- every single one of you- are helping me create my story. I hope I'm helping you create yours.
Just remember… in these stories… not everybody is having a happy chapter. Sometimes people have really sucky chapters. Or LOTS of really sucky chapters. And remember, before you criticize someone, that they're really just a product of their past chapters. Let's try to give out helping hands more often than we push others down.
We're all just doing the best we can.
And that's normal.