Our first day back was wonderful; we ate large, American meals, slept comfortably without mosquito nets, and enjoyed the crisp autumn air. Everything seemed so clean, big and welcoming. It was nice to be home again.
But within a week, my shoulders grew tight, my neck stiffened, and my head began to pound with forgotten stresses. Being home without a job was tough to cope with. I wanted things to do, places to be, but had the conflicting negative emotions toward our on-the-go, fast-food, mega-mall lives. I couldn't stand buying anything unnecessary. Materialistic needs were hard to justify. But social and professional progression called for new purchases, happy hours and fashion updates.
The toughest part? The growing stressors caused a startling realization: before the D.R., this was normal. I never questioned my sore muscles because who doesn't have stress here? It was unusual to enjoy the day-to-day because, honestly, who does that? Not that there isn't stress in the D.R., there is plenty. Worrying about a roof overhead, food on the table, and other basic survival necessities sure can be stressful, but the worries were on a daily basis: if there's enough money for today, everyone's satisfied. I've never seen so many smiles in my life.
A month later, back home, the stress has grown seemingly permanent. I'm looking to balance the values I acquired while maintaining with the American dream. Is it possible to stay relaxed while keeping pace with smart phones, digital evolution and every job applicant out there?
I don't mean to say we're not happy in the states, but lets be honest. When was the last time you smiled just because your dish washer runs, or your basic needs are met?
I am afraid to admit this may just be life: always working a little too hard toward the next best thing. But I'll continue to try to hold on to values learned abroad: a washing machine with a speedy dryer is one of the most amazing inventions of mankind. Period. I dare you to wash and dry your clothes by hand for a day. It'll quickly replace that gym membership of yours...