Dear Western World
This is a something I’ve wanted to write for ages but I’m never sure if I’ll be able to express myself in a way that conveys how I feel. I hope I don’t offend you, that’s not my intention. I just want you to know what I’m thinking and feeling right now.
Twelve days from now I shall be leaving my adopted home in an aeroplane (and that means air con, hallelujah) and coming back to you, my other home, for a while. I am looking forward to a cooler climate, seeing people who’ve known me for years and years and catching up, eating my favourite foods, seeing the sea, seeing greenery, drinking water straight from the tap, having a properly functioning fridge, eating copious amounts of cake, bacon, not being outnumbered by North Americans (BUT see below), not being continuously covered in dust, being in a country where I understand how everything ‘ticks’, being able to pay for shopping with a plastic card, not having to make sure paperwork has the correct stamp on it, fast internet, Costa coffee, a hot shower when the bathroom is standard temperature, explaining what I do here to interested people and having some time to reflect and relax. I am *very much* looking forward to these things.
However, I do have mixed emotions right now because I’m actually going to miss living in my adopted country. Apart from the heat. That I’m definitely not going to miss. I am going to miss my Chadian colleagues and friends. Their ability to be perpetually optimistic in a situation where, to Western thinking, they’d have every ‘right’ to be pessimistic. The way they’ve welcomed me into their country and joke and laugh about the most seemingly stupid stuff (it’s going to take ages to completely ‘get’ their humour). The way they encourage me in my Chadian Arabic and say that I speak ‘lots of Arabic’ when in actual fact I’ve the Arabic language ability of a two year old. The way that they can find a way to do stuff when to my mind it’s an impossibility. I’m going to miss being part of the expat community and the way that other expats can quickly become family. I’m even going to kinda miss be outnumbered by North Americans (!) and the way they tease me about the English words I use. I’m definitely going to miss ribbing them about the fact that they ‘stole’ my language in the first place and that they have a bordering-on-unhealthy obsession with Ziploc bags. (As an aside, thanks to my Facebook friend, can’t remember who it was, who ‘liked’ a meme that contained a picture of the Queen with the words it’s English, not ‘American English’. There is no such thing as ‘American English’. There is English, and there are mistakes. I gleefully WhatsApp’d that around my American friends here :) ). I’m going to miss the nomad family that set up home a mile or so away from the hospital who we visit fairly regularly and who we wave to every time we drive into town – they’ll have moved on by the time I get back. I’m going to miss seeing camels on the way into town. I’m going to miss the kids shouting Nasara (white person) and waving as I drive past. I’m going to miss the almost perpetual blue sky. Yes, I’m going to miss this place.
I’m not totally sure how I’ll be when I’m back with you Western World. I expect I’ll be excited but there will definitely be times when I’m missing aspects of here, or noticing the vast differences between here and there, and trying to process all of that. When the latter two things are the case please don’t take it personally. It’s just that I now have two homes that are polar opposites and transitioning between the two can be interesting, hard, weird and baffling. I hope you understand.
UK passport holder living in Chad