So I’m in the U.S. for the next few weeks before I return to Islamabad on June 1. The last month or so of work was insanely busy, which was why I didn’t get it together to post a new blog since celebrating my one-year anniversary with Pakistan.
It was definitely time for a break. Living in another country where just about every single thing is different than you’re used to is tiring in a very specific, particular way, and the only method of finding relief is to get away for a little while.
I’m most excited about the food. It’s crazy how much I miss things like avocados, blackberries, Fage yogurt, and whole wheat hamburger buns. I went to Trader Joe’s within one hour of landing in DC, mostly just to wander the aisles, mouth agape, before picking up items from the aforementioned list, as well as pumpkin granola, an adorable bag of clementines, and butternut squash.
The next few weeks are not so much a “vacation” as they are a time to recover, regroup, and get refreshed for returning to my stint in a foreign country. Exercise is super important, as is a lot of sleep, good eating, and good conversation with a few friends. So I want to apologize right now, in advance, for the fact that I will not be seeing most of you while I’m in the States. There just isn’t time, unless I want to turn my relaxing break into a breakneck social whirlwind, which my energy levels cannot afford at the moment.
The trip here was a little bumpy, which refers not only to a very turbulent flight over from Qatar (fourteen hours, yikes), but also to the fact that I had to leave at 2:30 in the morning from Islamabad, deal with hoards of people at an airport where cutting in line is a way of life, and explain to the woman sitting next to me on the 14 hour flight how to put her tray table down, how to turn on her overhead light, how to use her little TV screen, and what the eye mask was for (“You put it over your eyes, to sleep.”)
The one thing I didn’t have to teach her how to use was her barf bag; she got the hang of that all the way from Doha to Dulles. She also, inexplicably, decided to seat right next to me in the middle seat, even though the aisle seat was available. This was especially great during all the vomiting. You try to concentrate on eating parmesan chicken and watching “Quantum of Solace” with that going on in the next seat. Quantum of Solace is not that good, it turns out.
The funniest thing about this trip to the U.S. is that it’s the first time I am coming here where I really feel like a visitor. When the stern lady at customs in Washington DC asked me “Did you bring any food back?” my first thought was that “back” wasn’t right. This isn’t a trip “back”: I don’t live here anymore. So it’s actually a trip away from home, which right now is Pakistan. Actually, that was my second thought. My first thought was whether the wild organic honey in my suitcase that I brought back as a present counted as “food.” Whoops.