I arrived back home last Wednesday (March 5th). I never expected it would take a week to recover, but I'm only now feeling like I'm really here. I've had a couple "I need to go back" moments since being home, and I have to remind myself that it's finished. At least, for now.
A lot of people have asked me along the way "how have you changed?" I honestly don't know, and probably won't for a few weeks yet. I can say that I'm more cognizant of what I have and what I need. It's sad how much junk I've purchased over the years just for the sake of buying it. For example, I cleaned out a spare bedroom (that acts as a big collection point for all kinds of things) the other day. I ended up tossing five cordless phone systems. Five! We've only been in our house for 10 years, and in that time we've bought and thrown aside five perfectly good phones just because others looked better. I also counted six computers that were sitting unused (granted, some are old technology but they'd still work for something). That's really sad. I really need to stop spending money on bright and shiny things and start helping people in my own community.
I start my new job next week. I'll be in pharmacy management again, doing similar things to my old job. It'll be on a smaller scale, with regular hours and no travel. That will be a big change for me - I was used to 60-hour weeks and up to 50% travel. I hope to enroll in some language classes, take guitar lessons, and maybe even fulfill a long-standing dream of getting a pilot's license. But then, I could take a few months to relax and see what life brings. We'll see.
A couple follow-ups from Guguletu:
1. Marvin came back from Botswana last Monday, the day before I left. He was in tough shape. He had lost weight and was probably under 120 pounds, if at that. He was so weak he could barely walk. He hadn't eaten in three days because he had no appetite - he had food with him but just couldn't stomach it. He moved in with a family member, who promised to look after him.
I saw Marvin again on Tuesday and he was looking a little more perky. He had been to the clinic, and his doctor was making arrangements to have him hospitalized for a couple weeks so that he could regain his strength. Marvin was also looking at ways to move to Johannesburg so that he'd be closer to his son. I think he'll probably do that within the next couple months. I just hope he's able to recover and get healthy. It would be very sad to lose a good friend.
2. Nancy is still positive about getting a new house. I didn't see her before I left because she was only returning from the Eastern Cape on Wednesday morning. I did wire her money for a new house, and I have no doubt she will continue to look for one. Unless she needs the money for food, that is.
3. Maxwell was busy planting new vegetables in our garden last week. The green peppers from the previously planting were still doing well. He was going to put in some carrots, spinach, and other summer vegetables. I hope he sticks with it and that someone can fund the winter planting in September.
4. Siyaya is still planning to come to the US in June-July 2008. If you live in Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, or Pensacola and want more details, please write to me. It will be a fantastic show and you will not be disappointed.
That's all I have. Sincere thanks to everyone who supported my adventure, who read my blog and write to me (or who just read it), and everyone who prayed for me to return safely. I have no regrets about going and would do it all over again. I hope others have the chance to take some time and do something they've dreamed about.
No more to come.