Last week, I moved into an apartment in Chicago just in time for a polar vortex to sweep through. After the move, I wanted to write about my new surroundings but feeling the cold again and thinking of last Thanksgiving, I'm writing about Honduras like I am still there.
Last Thanksgiving, I returned to the States from Honduras, traveling to New York City to visit my sister and then up to Vermont where my family celebrated the holiday at my brother's house. Going from rural Honduras to New York City was a drastic cultural shift but one I craved. I don't really believe in reverse culture shock so much -- I've lived in the United States long enough to know what it would be like when I returned -- but I do believe there is a tuning in of certain habits that you never noticed before.
Waking up on Thanksgiving morning, I made myself a cup of Twining's black tea (rather than the Honduran off brand I was used to), opened up the New York Times and thought, que lujo. There was a foot of snow outside in Vermont but the heat and my wool socks were on. I finished an article on the typhoon that had just passed through the Philippines. In Honduras, I never could sit down and read through articles on a screen so I fell out of the loop. That morning, I finally read about the tragedy, saw a photo of a family displaced, felt for someone outside my narrow focus.
After a week of home cooking, craft beer, laying on the couch with my family and other indulges the States provided, I traveled back to Honduras with a stack of my sister's old New Yorkers. My trip made me realize the luxury that I missed most from the States: not the ability to drive or shower in hot water but mostly I missed access to words and beauty in the form of reporting, photos and storytelling. It was strange, the dichotomy it drew, getting such contentment from reading about world events but in doing so, I had to gain distance from the field. I'm addicted to storytelling but I also recognize it's shortage, how indirect it is.
Nowadays, reading the paper with a hot beverage in my hand is a pretty common occurrence. Every morning, I open up my blinds, sit with mint tea and read the newspaper or a library book before I walk to the bus. I can walk to the Starbucks on my corner and buy the paper or to a library where any book I want is on the shelf. I didn't come back to Chicago for this. I came back for family, to gain work experience, some money, and if I was fortunate to find a job doing so, to work for the need in my own backyard. But now, when I open that newspaper, finally in my hands again, I realize the space between the page and I.