The last thing I was expecting was a break up. I didn’t realize was how a break up can involve any sort of relationship, including a relationship to a place, or people, or a thing, or even a job. As I wake up heavy each morning, experiencing a familiar feeling of discontent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I realized today that it was the feeling of a broken heart.
I wasn’t in Nicaragua for a long time, but the experiences and people will forever have a lasting effect on me.
I miss the city. I miss waving at the people I know as I walk through the park, the bright colors changing throughout the city, the big city feel of a small city in Central America, because maybe small towns don’t exist.
I miss riding my bike through the cramped streets, dodging taxis and holes, because it provides some sort of satisfaction. A satisfaction of I can fit in and get around faster, filled with the fun of the obstacles, with a side of adrenaline. The annoyance I feel when I get to the cobble stone street, then laugh because I am annoyed with the cobblestone street of Granada, Nicaragua.
I miss the quiet jokes that began at the hotel 3 weeks before I left. The conversations that became more absolute as my Spanish improved week by week. My Spanish classes filled with history and culture from an easy-going woman at Spanish School Xpress, learning that I have to just go with the flow. What a grand lesson I learned there in Nicaragua.
I learned to be creative in all manners: getting someone or something from point a to point b, fix an item that is broken, anything can be done with what you already have, for the most part.
I miss habitación 10 with a giant bed and a giant TV that I never use and my window that overlooked the street and church, quite possibly the busiest street in Granada. The church bells that upset everyone, and therefore make me laugh with pleasure because they never bothered me. The firecrackers and honking. The smell of wet pavement when I open my door first thing in the morning, a heavy and sweet smell, ripened by the constant heat. I wake up well rested with my head on the giant pillow, aside from the mosquito intruder that occasionally snacked on me. I need one of those pillows as a souvenir.
I miss the mornings when I needed to find Enrique to escape the confines of security and explore what the city has to offer in bicycle. The views are a little bit like conjugations. Some things are imperfect and recurring, like the man in his collared shirt sitting in front of the church or the ice cream man who always tells me he will have my favorite ice cream tomorrow and the people I wave to relaxing in the park. Other things are preterite, with a beginning and end, like the parades and funeral processions, the banana cart with Texas plates, surprising incidents that make me smile with wonder: how are they doing that?
I miss the clinic, where I became friends with some of the most compassionate and amazing people I have ever met. I miss the miscommunication and jokes and smells and lessons. I even miss fanning everyone learning new tasks when the power went out. The puppies and kittens that seemed to follow us home, but undoubtedly needed medical treatment stat. However, I will never EVER miss the ticks.
It wasn’t easy in the beginning. I remember feeling like I would never get the hang of it, and I had no close friends, and it felt like I was receiving no bones for the amount I was putting in. When I look back on my writings, I had moments of despair as I fumbled through public speaking in front of people who hadn’t come to learn of the topic, comments on how I could improve, endless small talk that I didn’t forsee evolution into something important.
It didn’t last long as I forged friendships that will last, created unforgettable memories with people I just met, helped hundreds of animals and people and students, all at the same time of thinking I wasn’t cut out for the job.
And now I am home.
Home. A place, at this time, that feels more like a stagnant puddle flooded with memories I thought could never reach me again. Home. Where I am still tooth and nail with the family that hurt me what seemed beyond repair. Home. Here I return to the same job that no longer provides the fulfillment I experienced in service work. Home. Where everything is so familiar and reminds me of a loose end that was never tied but tugs at the corner of my heart and stabs my soul with the sharp edges.
What I didn’t realize two months ago when I left, was the void that would exist from living in a place I could call home when I arrived back in Washington. I thought I had missed the scent of old dusty pine, and the sweet PNW summer days that lasted perhaps a hair too long. The mountains that rise around the valley in which I grew up, where all of the memories are uncomfortably setting at this very moment. I didn’t know I was still so affected by things that happened so many years ago, until I left them again and came back again. It is no different than the last time I returned from an extended stay in Latin America. But I know it won’t be long before I fall back in love with this place, because let’s be real, I have an opportunity I can’t shut the shades on, because it’ll get me to where I need to go.