Reasons I’m suddenly happier about Cuba:
Going home doesn’t seem so far away. A weird paradox, but knowing it’s soon frees up some mental space to stop stressing and start enjoying
We went to Santiago. For one thing, I love that city. Another is that we got a change of pace, making Havana seem fresher, and my time there more precious, in addition to giving me an entire new perspective on Cuba
I emailed Ilham. She was a faculty leader on the egypt Dialogue, and she’s on of my personal rock stars. All throughout Egypt we had to keep journals for reflection, and I was very conscious that Ilham was reading it, at times almost treating it like a conversation with her and expecting her to react the next day about something I had written the night before. Something about writing her a conversation for real was comforting, and reminded me of the person I’m trying to be, both personally and academically.
Our Group. The people I’m with includes Michigan and NU students, house staff, Casa staff. I’ve noticed that the whole group is a lot more zen lately, especially about interpersonal relations. I’ve seen people cutting each other slack where they wouldn’t before, and spending time with people they hadn’t before. The relaxed attitude makes our house so much more pleasant to live in. It fills it up with boisterous, friendly chaos, instead of jarring, staccato coldness.
I watched some American TV. Dumb, I know, but it helped. It was also fun to just be American kids for a little while. We could’ve been anywhere at home, lounging on a couch, eating (fake) pringles and watching television in English.
Food. Aliesha’s mom sent a giant box of goodies, and Kristina’s mom brought some homemade cookies and pancake mix. We also got great, filling breakfasts in Santiago, and decently priced, delicious food for lunch and dinner. That was probably one of the only times I’ve felt truly satisfied with a meal her. To boot, there aren’t as many shortages right now on staples like bread or eggs.
Home is a wee bit more organized. I know when my flight leaves for France, and when I come home from Benin. I can go to Andrew’s graduation (after missing so many important events in his life this past year) and I can go to BMG’s first communion. The first thing she asked was whether I would be there, and I hated that I didn’t know and wasn’t really in control of the answer. Cuba has made me really laid back (in some ways), but I feel calm knowing I won’t let Miss Bridget down.
It’s amazing how much your perspective can change by seeing your world through someone else’s lens. It felt good to have someone well-traveled recognize that Cuba is indeed strange. We’re not imagining it, this really is hard, and it really is different from going to Australia. I also loved realizing that what comes to mind about Cuba for me is all the good stuff, and I see all the bad stuff in a good light. Things that other people found strange, stressful or scary rolled off my back with a laugh. Someone said that we’re a funny group, but I countered that no, it’s just Cuba that’s funny.
I really do believe it.