Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, February 7

Friend Shock

I think I need to admit that I'm having a really rough week. Granted, I haven't left Mboro (except one afternoon to meet other volunteers for lunch) in over a month. And the idea that I haven't been able to relax and let go in that long is really starting to take an emotional toll. Because in reality, I don't do a whole lot during the day. Go here, go there, take a nap (it's seriously still hot here in the middle of the day), and teach a class, blah blah. I watch a lot of movies so there's no way I'm physically exhausted. But emotionally... that's a different story.

Every time I look at this picture of my Dad I have on my desk, it's all I can do to stop myself from crying. I know it's dumb but this is the longest I've been without a big bear hug from my Dad. In reality, I should've moved away a long time ago, but I don't think it's that. Because even if I move away, I can still drive or fly home. I just can't do that here. I'm stuck, just stuck.

And it's not all about the hug, it's the whole idea that I miss being with people I can relate to. It's so hard talking to people when I barely have the language skills for a decent conversation. And then there's culture and a lack of common ground. I literally have zero friends in my town. Zero. None. And it sucks so much.

And you know what? This leads me to spend time on facebook looking at my friends pages and missing them. Then (and this might be the paranoia from the Malaria pills but...) I start to think that the only thing I know about my friends lives is what I read in facebook posts. What is that? Facebook posts aren't really anything. But someone will say they went to the gym or that they went out dancing with some of my other friends... and I feel so left out. I want so badly to know how people are doing, and what they're doing, that I've resorted to cyber stalking them.

And then... When I face the fact that I'm now a cyber stalker I realize that I'm really scared of losing all these "friends." I use quotes because knowing someone on facebook doesn't make us friends. Having a relationship with that person does. Being there when shity things and good things happen does. Interaction with people makes friendships.

I try to email people a lot... but they don't really write back. And (again with the paranoia) then I start to feel conceded for sending people emails continuously- because if they don't write back then all I have to talk about is me. I guess if I had to imagine their side of things, not many "new" things happen. People go to work, go to the gym, and go to the bar for a few drinks. The usual stuff. And telling me about it may seem boring, but I feel like I live for it. I wrote an email the other day with just questions like: what are you weekend plans, what new songs do you listening to, what was the last piece of clothing you bought and what's it look like, what color is your nail polish, and what do you order from Tim Hortons these days? It may seem boring to you, but a new coffee drink would be interesting to me now.

It seems sort of idyllic to go away for 2 years and come back and have everything be totally new, but I don't want it. I think it'd be too much of a culture shock and I'd like to know about this random stuff now. Not to mention, just like the culture shock would suck, imagine having "friend shock" and actually having to say "so what have you been up to the last couple of years?" Let's try and save that for the high school reunions please. Because anyone I'd say that to when I got back is clearly no longer a friend. And have we covered that I don't want to lose my friends?

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