Home Awaits, But Only Briefly

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Rabat, Morocco

Go ahead and add Baltimore's Inner Harbor to things I miss back home.
Eight eventful months have passed since Jacqueline and I arrived in Morocco, excited but about the prospect of settling here for a long haul. It's strange to realize that we have just passed the half-way mark.

In our own way, we have each wrestled with a number of frustrations since our arrival—everything from petty street harassment to homesickness to the big questions about our paths in life.

By and large, however, the positives have outweighed the struggles. With new friends or just the two of us, exploring cities, towns, beaches, and mountains throughout the country is consistently invigorating, while the comfortable routine of daily life in Rabat has seemed to dull those old longings for home.

But home—as hard as it is for me to believe—is where I am headed tomorrow morning. My all-too-
brief trip back to the US has finally arrived. While Jacqueline is off at a Fulbright conference in Amman, Jordan, in the space of a very frantically paced week I will hit Baltimore, New York, and my sister's graduation (from Georgetown, too!) in DC.

Part of me wonders if home will be recognizable; since I left the States, my mom has moved to a new house that I will be visiting for the first time this week. There's a new president in the White House, and apparently something called "the financial crisis," which to us has so far been nothing more than a news item.

But mostly I'm just excited—like heart-thumping, brain-buzzing, limbs-trembling "kid on Christmas Eve" level excitement. Between my stress to finish up at work and my eagerness to be back I could hardly sleep last night, and I know there's no point in even trying tonight.

As my return visit has approached, I've found myself daydreaming more and more, inventing lists of things I miss most:
  • family and friends most of all, of course;
  • followed closer than you might think by Mexican food;
  • being able to speak one's mind (Morocco may style itself as a liberal, constitutional monarchy, but it's still a monarchy, and there's no First Amendment here);
  • spring lacrosse season has a certain nostalgia;
  • bagels, oh yes, what I would do for a bagel;
  • mmmmm Chipotle burritos;
  • recycling because, ugh, it's disgusting how much plastic we go through in this country, despite my best efforts to minimize waste, and I know not a shred of it gets re-used;
  • good beer (America is home to some of the world's worst beers—upon which the Moroccan ones seem to be modeled—but also some of the best, and I miss them dearly.) Oh, for just one sip of a Dogfish Head...

Such has been the nearly 24-hour whirring inside my head for the last few days, in between work and forays to the medina to dig up souvenirs for folks back home.

Funny to think how early on here, I was developing the opposite list—one of all the things I don't miss about the US. Lately though, that exercise has held less appeal, and those lists keep getting shorter. It could be that America just seems rosier in the Age of Obama. Or maybe I'm just due for a visit, to remind myself of what I'm missing here.

In DC? Come catch up with me Friday evening... Happy Hour - open invite.

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