Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fun with Tropical Diseases

I admit it. Elise knows it. I know it. I'm the worst sick person in the world.

For most of almost two years, I swore off mosquito repellent. I can't stand the smell or how sticky it makes my skin feel. Elise would try to spray me down when she doused the kids, and I inevitably waved her away, mistakenly believing myself immune to mosquito-borne illnesses. Boy, was I wrong.

Though the blood work came back negative for dengue, the doctor seems convinced that's what it was. When I woke on the fourth morning with swollen hands and the beginning of a rash creeping up my arms, even Elise was convinced maybe there really was something wrong with me.

I was standing on pretty shaky emotional ground before I got sick. Now, after the illness has passed, I'm convinced our two-year assignment in India should have only been for one-year and ten months. I'm ready to go.

I know this is a terrible thing to admit--and I know there is a part of me that is confident that when Elise and I look back on our time in India, we will recall India with nothing but fondness, if only because of all India taught us about our own limits, human frailty, and about the importance of being humble as we travel the world. But I also know that I will recall India with fondness when I remember how much I children grew in India, and how India shaped part of the individuals they will become.

The other morning, Sam sat at the breakfast table, eating his bowl of Crispix. As we got near the bottom, I asked him if he wanted another. He didn't say anything. All he did was bobble his head at me. He was completely honest in his response, and I knew exactly what he was saying. It was beautiful and maddening at the same time.

I was sick in bed with a 102 fever for four days. On the fifth day, I had to fly to Bangalore for a work commitment. As I was waiting in line for security at the airport, I had to hold my arm up and keep not one....not two....but three men from cutting in front of me as I was waiting to walk through the metal detector. Part of me understands that in a country of over one billion people no one gets anywhere by waiting in a queue, but after almost two years of people honking at me all the time, I think I need a break from the constant press of humanity.

We have six weeks to go, and I wish it was tomorrow. I am already a ghost at work, merely a phantom wandering the halls. I remember experiencing the same thing at my office in Brazil, a feeling of being obsolete, written off...especially after my replacement arrived, but I don't remember it happening so early. I feel trapped. I want to be outside....all day long....without dying of heat exhaustion or battling a million mosquitoes....eating a turkey sandwich and peaches, drinking a very hoppy beer, looking into the sun filter through oak trees, watching the kids play on the playground equipment. I want to go to the Lion Man park and climb the trees and pretend like I am on the TV show American Ninja.

I remember when Elise and I first moved to Ballston, when we first left Florida to start this new adventure. I took Sam and an infant Peter to Quincy Park. We walked from our apartment building in the city; I pushed them in our first double-decker Phil 'n' Teds stroller through the busy city streets, and I remember the sun shining in my face and feeling such a sense of accomplishment. I had saved my family from financial destitution. I had a job, a good job, an exciting job, and I was proud and happy.

There is so much sadness, angst and stress associated with moving from India back to Northern Virginia. There are so many unknowns, but there can't be as many unknowns this time as there were then, when we didn't even know where we were going, before we knew what wonders awaited us in Brazil and then India.

And all I want is to be back there with the sun in my face again. We will go to Starbucks everyday, and I don't care if we go broke doing it. 

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