Leaving Jordan behind...

After 2 years of living in a village where every time I step outside my door, there's either a child squatting on my porch and staring at me or a toothless Bedouin woman rushing over to pat my shoulder and invite me for tea, you'd think that I would've left Jordan with regret that I couldn't grant everyone in my village an American visa and with immediate plans to return and see my 10th graders graduate from the madrasa.
Unashamedly, I admit that I didn't leave with one ounce of longing to stay in the country a minute longer. Don't get me wrong; my 2 years of Peace Corps experience have been amazing and irreplaceable, but I was ready to move on. I was ready to shed those layers and wear shorts and prance around in a tanktop. I couldn't wait to eat meat that wasn't my neighbor's goat and I was so excited to walk around anywhere in complete anonymity. I dreamt of strolling down a Main Street and not getting rocks thrown at me, and I lusted for the chance to be able to have normal cross-gender relationships that wouldn't be perceived as sinful.
On the last night in my village, I made the rounds. I visited all my favorite neighbors, giving them clothes and spices and toys that I'd accumulated throughout my Peace Corps service. Goodbyes weren't all that difficult and none were tearful, because I explained to them that although I would be leaving Jordan, I was going back to see my family and sister whom I haven't seen for a very long 2 years. The concept of familial relationships is just as ingrained in Middle Eastern culture as it is in Asian tradition, so this was easily understandable. I wasn't leaving them; I was going home to see my family. And, I told them, in sha Allah (God willing), we would meet later in life.
I left my village on a dusty morning, weighed down with multiple bags that were impossible for a 5-foot girl to manage. After a strenuous 3 hour fight to get to Amman, I made it and rejoiced with the thought that in 72 hours, I would be moving on to the next chapter in my life.
Because of the multiple medical procedures and administrative meetings that need to be completed before a Peace Corps volunteer can leave the country, I spent my last 3 days in Jordan in Amman. When I wasn't rushing around the office filing forms or getting a doctor's signature to say that I was healthy, I was sitting at cafes with fellow volunteers, reminiscing over how much we would or wouldn't miss Jordan, what we'd do with our Arabic when we got back, which couples would stay together after their service, and what we looked forward to: washing machines, air conditioning and central heating, driving, restaurants, wine dinners, not hiding that we have friends of the opposite sex, and greenness. The best way to get excited about something is to surround yourself with people who are equally, if not more, excited about the same things and to constantly talk about how great it'll be to stroke a washing machine again.
It's been a week since I've left Jordan, and I don't miss it one bit. I look back on my experiences now with more clarity and better perspective than I had when I was in the country, but with no longing to return to the days when I froze in the winters, fasted during Ramadans, had to wear long sleeves and a long skirt even when I hung my laundry up outside, and was expected to make students fluent in English in a mere 2-hour tutoring session.
Great memories do abound, but as for now, I'm still in that phase of the first lick of freedom: I'm not judged when I talk to males, I'm not considered Satan-ish when I wear short sleeves, and I'm not forced to say Bismid-Allah or Al-Hamdid-Allah before and after every single meal.

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