A Quick Update on the Most Beautiful Floors that Ever Were

Remember a while ago, when we did the last walk-through of the house before the renters left, and I mentioned how one of my favorite things about our house has always been the warmth? The light pouring into the living room? And when I stood in the house as the renters moved their last belongings out, I was so very disappointed in how little our house felt anything like our home?


Light | Hardwoods

The Beard has worked tirelessly to restore that feeling of “ohhhhh yea” to the house. Those are our new hardwoods!  (Pay no attention to the tools on the fireplace.) I’m in love. And we got a great discount on them since it took so very long for them to arrive.

Here are the kitchen floors, which I also like to stare at for minutes on end.


Oh the light! I love the light!

Now that our floors are in, the major work is pretty much done. Right now our guest bedroom is full of boxes and the basement hasn’t been touched at all, but we’re in the house! So happy to be back. :)

We also have new roommate who is arriving any day now. That room is looking pretty fantastic if I do say so myself. I’ll try to post photos soonish. We’re still staying strong on the no-internet front; I’m at the library now (where nobody uses their library voice. What’s up with that?).

Once things slow down a little with the moving-in/unpacking/prepping-for-new-roomie stuff, I’ll have a post for you about some furniture renovation I’ve been working on the last few months. I’m pretty excited about sharing the pieces I’ve done. Until then, enjoy the light on those gorgeous floors.

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More delays and (finally) a few totally finished rooms

Our main living areas are still not finished because Home Depot has still not received our flooring order (argh). But that’s okay. It’s cool. We’re not worried about it. I’m not gonna worry. No sir. Totally chill over here.

It’s just that…

We have a pretty big family event coming up next month that we absolutely can not reschedule and I’d really love it if our house was not a construction zone. We’re going to try to get it to a place where it’s presentable this weekend–throw some rugs on the sub floors, bring in some chairs–so hopefully that will make it all more liveable until the hardwoods arrive.

In other news, the master bath is 100% finished! All that it lacked really since my last post was a mirror. I had this great one I got years ago at Old Time Pottery for less than $10 and it turns out that it looks awesome in there. Here’s our new vanity area:

Master Bath Vanity

Er mer gersh I love it.

And here’s our totally d-o-n-e master bedroom! Complete with the gigantic, ridiculously ornate furniture we purchased as newly weds. (I still love it though.)

Master BR Finished! Master BR finished!

Yesterday while the Beard worked, I tested out the nap-ability of this room and it is pretty extraordinary.

The guest bedroom and the new roomie’s bedroom are both pretty much finished as far as work goes. They just need to be organized and what not. We are using the guest room as storage right now while the living room is subfloor-y so I can’t do anything in there other than unpack a million boxes and marvel at all the junk we have. (We have so much stuff.)

The kitchen and guest bathrooms are also done! But I don’t have any photos for you right now. I am so into the new kitchen floor that sometimes I just stand there staring at it with lovey-dove eyes. So much better than what it used to be. (Before and after photos definitely to follow.)

In other news, we have set a move-in date (despite the lack of living room liveability). It’s been absolutely wonderful living with my in-laws; you really don’t hear that every day, I know, but it’s true. I love them and have enjoyed being able to spend so much time with them since we’ve been back. But we’ve been in this strange post-Samoa transition period for a really long time now and I’m ready to get the next phase of our lives started.

I just want to warn everyone-in-the-world that we have decided against having the internet at our house. Yup. I’m for real. We lived without it for three years in American Samoa and really view it as a “want” and not a “need” now. Maybe that will change when we get in the house. Who knows? Also, I know that having constant internet access greatly reduces my productivity and I hate that. Get ready to marvel at the only two thirty-somethings you know who don’t have smartphones OR internet at home! I guess we’ll have to do friendships the old-fashioned way and see each other in person.

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Renovation update (all the other weeks)

Soon after we started our Major Big Time Renovation project, we had to go out of state to visit family for the holidays. And then things were just slow going for a while–some trim painted here, a closet painted there; it was a ton of work but we weren’t seeing many dramatic changes. Now that it’s been about a month since the last update, we are really starting to see things come together.

Our master bedroom is pretty much done! Here’s what it looked like before:

Mbr - Before

And this is what it looks like now:

Master Bedroom

The updates: New paint on the walls, new ceiling fan, new carpet. Also primered and painted all the trim (moulding, windows, even the closet shelves) white.

And here’s a glance at (part of) our new bathroom!

Master Bath - Vanity

You may remember the ugly brown 70’s vanity and forest green tile.  In here, we painted (walls & trim), re-tiled the floors, and replaced the vanity, counter-top, faucets, and light fixture. All that I have to do now is hang the mirror (which is in storage so we’ll have to do that once we move in and unpack).

Lemme just be thrilled about the savings for a minute: We had a tough time finding a vanity/counter-top we both liked. This wasn’t my first choice (my first choice was probably about 2x as much as the whole bathroom budget; who knew these little cabinets were so expensive?). But we got really lucky at Home Depot! This vanity was recently marked for clearance at our local store. Then, because we purchased the last one (floor model), we asked if they could discount it a little more (and they did). We got such a great deal on the vanity that I didn’t faint when I saw the price of faucets.

Okay, let’s get back to the rest of the house. The two other bedrooms are also finished!

Our new roommate’s space. The walls are Behr’s Gentle Rain (same as in living room); the closet is Behr’s Adventure Orange. This shot is way too low because the current ceiling fan in this room is so bad, and I didn’t want to distract you from how great that closet looks.

The Stranger's room

This is our old guest bedroom (new office space? craft room?) Walls are Behr’s Mountain Sage; closet is Gentle Rain (what? we had a lot of it left over).

Guest Bedroom

The Beard put the vent/switch plate covers/ doors/ blinds back up in all the bedrooms so they are good to go!

All of our new carpet was purchased at and installed by Acworth Floor Center. My in-laws used them years ago and recommended them to us. We hardly ever hire anyone to do work for us, but didn’t think carpet was a very DIY kind of thing. I know we can be difficult customers–we want high quality at low prices and we have a hard time making decisions. The guys over at Acworth Floor Center let us take our time, go back and forth on the carpet/color, take some samples home for the weekend, and then (after all our stalling) were totally on board when we finally made our choice and asked them if they could install a.s.a.p. Shopping there was just easy and I definitely recommend them.

This weekend we went to Floor and Decor to buy the tile for the guest bathroom and kitchen. Originally I really wanted to put down laminate in the kitchen (so many benefits of laminate over tile! so many!), but y’all know I love saving money and tile is just way more cost-efficient. The Beard has prepped the guest bath and will hopefully have the tile done in there by the end of next week; he’ll also be ripping up the kitchen floors before Christmas.

We have encountered a pretty big set-back with our hardwoods, which we purchased from Home Depot mid-November. We thought for sure we’d have them installed by now, but the floors have been out-of-stock and are not estimated to arrive until early January. It took us so long to find floors we both loved that we decided to wait it out rather than getting a refund and starting over. So, we still plan to move in to the house (even with the exposed sub-floors) on schedule and will just have to install the floors when they get here.

A lot of not-related-to-the-house things have been going on, and I really do plan on updating y’all on that soon. In the meantime, I hope you all have a great Christmas (we are so incredibly thrilled to be able to spend the holidays with family & friends for the first time in years!) and a safe New Year’s Eve! <3

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Renovation Week 1

We made it through the first week of the Great Renovation. The Beard Light and his dad did a ton of work this week but it wasn’t the dramatic kind that makes you gasp when you see the difference. It was all the kind that they gloss over on those HGTV shows.

Now listen: I am not a designer. I have almost no sense of space and design and pulling a room together and all that. We just find stuff we like and we put that stuff in our house and almost nothing goes together. So if you are looking for one of those exciting design blogs, look elsewhere. Our personal style could best be described as “lazy thrift-store eclectic.” But I do want to share this new little journey with y’all because it’s kind of a big deal in our lives right now.

I showed you what our house looked like before we moved out of it and onto a tiny island in my last post. This is what it looks like now that it’s basically a construction zone.

House now

Not so pretty, eh? We are super fortunate (and so thankful!) to have the help of my father in law, who is super handy and knows how to do everything home-improvement-related. He took off from work this week to help us get started.

Week one was dedicated to ripping out carpet throughout the house, painting all the ceilings, beginning the master bath renovation, and painting some rooms. We started with the master & living room.

Here’s the master bedroom before:

After the carpet was ripped up. You can see pieces of the pad still stapled to the subfloor. Removing those staples was one of my measly contributions to the labor. It is pretty tedious work. After an hour or so you start silently cursing whoever-laid-the-carpet for using so many staples. (Probably totally necessary but I-dun-care-it’s-annoying.)

And now this is what it looks like with a fresh coat of paint (obvs, we still need to paint the trim [and get those wooden windows white]):



The paint is called Quiet Moment (by Behr).

It doesn’t really look like that much of a transformation but it took some time to get the carpet, padding, and staples up. The ceiling has also been painted. My father in law has basically been breaking his back every day to do a lot of this work for us (because he is THE BEST).

We also decided it was time to update our tiny little master bath a little bit. When we first moved in, this itsy bitsy space was fire-engine red with forest green tiles and black grout. It was awful. We painted it a buttery yellow color to try to brighten the space, but couldn’t really do anything about the tile at the time. The guys ripped all the tile out this week, and while we were at it we decided to change out the vanity, pull down the huge unframed mirror, and get rid of the very-dated wooden Hollywood lights. Our house was built in 1984 (the back of the mirror has a date stamp of 8/19/1983! I wasn’t even alive then!), and while a lot of things have been updated over the years, the bathrooms and kitchen still have that very 1980s look.

I didn’t get a good before photo of the bathroom, but you can see the awful green tiles in this in-progress shot:

Bathroom before

You can also see the red paint that was there before. Ick.

Hey, lookit these awesome guys working so hard:
Bathroom - rip it up

And here is a close-up of the new tile we got at Floor & Decor. There are several different colors in this same pattern and I kind of want to use it in every room of the house. (Ours is actually called “bamboo” but they don’t have that on the website so I’ve linked to the very similar “linen.”)

M/b tile close up

Bathroom - new tile

There’s still a whole lot left to do in the bathroom but I’m pretty happy about the progress so far.

Finally, the Beard Light took on the biggest paint job of all–our gigantic living room, hallway, entry way, and stair well.

About a year before we moved to AmSam, we painted these spaces a very warm brown that I absolutely loved and insisted on. We were both really happy with it then. But now we are so very over it (and the color brown in general; I think everything I owned for a good ten years was brown. what’s up with that?) So we decided to go with a lighter, more neutral color to bring in some more light. It’s called Gentle Rain and it is one of those wonderfully flat grays without any blue or green undertones. I love it.

Living room before:

The Beard Light being all cute and painter-y in the hallway:


Living room after (well… it still needs another coat, but you get the idea):


We still have so much to do and sometimes it’s really overwhelming. Y’all know that I obsess over things right? I have woken up in the middle of the night this past week completely flipping out over finding the right vanity for our bathroom, or whether I am making the right choice for the paint in the back bedroom (where our new roommate will live), no joke.

Really the bigger problem is that I struggle with spending money–like I have a really hard time. (Like, I feel intense guilt about buying new things when my old things work perfectly fine and some people in the world don’t have things half as nice as my old things and what kind of terrible, wasteful person am I anyway?!?! This is why I just can’t get braces no matter how many high school students comment on my crooked teeth. I feel guilty spending that kind of money on something that is purely cosmetic. Oy.) So even though we saved and planned for all of this, I get a little worked up over it from time to time. The whole experience has been much more stressful than I expected it to be. And also we never anticipated that we’d spend so much of our new American life at Home Depot. Sometimes I like to tell myself that I’m shopping local and I’m supporting the Falcons in a round about way by shopping there, but I know it’s all a lie. Whatevs. I love Home Depot. (I’d love it more if they’d send me some coupons or something, ya know?)

Next week we hope to have the master bath finished and both guest rooms painted. We may even get the new floors in! Eek!

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Home Sweet Home

We did the final inspection on our house yesterday and got the keys back from the renters. It was pretty surreal, standing in that big empty house that looks so little like our old home.


My favorite thing about our house has always been its warmth. Even in the dead of winter the living room is full of light, and I used to love spending my Sundays knitting in an over-stuffed chair by the fireplace, enveloped in the warmth of the fire and the sunlight pouring through the windows.

It was about 30 degrees (-1c) and the heat was off when we met at the house yesterday, so we walked room to room with our (okay, maybe just my) teeth chattering and our hands deep in our not-at-all-warm-enough jackets. Before the inspection, while Wes helped the renters move their last few items out of the house, I stood in the kitchen in front of the sliding glass doors trying desperately to convince myself that the setting sunlight filtering through was enough to warm me. It did not feel much like home. Not like our home anyway.

We’ve been beyond blessed to have the same people renting our house for the last three years; we haven’t had to deal with the headache of finding a new renter from half-way around the world or having the house inspected and cleaned during the few months we’re home in the summers. It’s been much better than it could’ve been–I know that. But other-people-living-in-your-house is very strange. I don’t know that I’d recommend it. (I have a great many opinions/observations on the overall state of our property but realize it would not be prudent to share them. Feel free to applaud my impressive self-control.)

This whole there-and-back-again thing has taught me so much about who I really am–I’ve had opportunities and experiences I never imagined myself having. I’ve learned a lot about what kind of person I am and what I am capable of. And I know now, without question, that I am not a landlord. But Wes is. He’s patient and understanding and fair in a way that I wish everyone in the world could be (including myself). He’s really taken the reigns with the rental from day one so I haven’t had too many opportunities to be my “Um, I don’t know if that’s a good idea ohmygosh reallywhatishappeninginhere STAWPIT” self.

We will spend the next few weeks further destroying the house in order to get it move-in ready by the new year. It’s all very stressful and exciting and expensive. (Yesterday while we were discussing the estimated cost of the new floors, I couldn’t help but feel envious at how easy and inexpensive and practically decision-free this process is in Manu’a.) We have a lot of work to do and I plan on blogging the heck out of it. The painting! The repairs! The flooring! Oh my! Get ready for a bunch of photos that aren’t of malnourished dogs or beach sunsets! This blog is going to a whole new level!

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Letting go | Being here

Evening Swim in Faleasao

Evening Swim in Faleasao

Lately I dream of Manu’a nearly every night. It’s almost always the same dream: Wes and I have just “stopped by” Faleasao for the day. We run into the new WorldTeach volunteers, who are busy unpacking and mostly disinterested in us.

I wake from these dreams with a sense of urgency–my mind racing with little bursts of panicked memory like when you suddenly realize that you have some big deadline tomorrow or that it’s your mom’s birthday and you haven’t gotten her anything. My heart is always racing. I think of all the things I should’ve told them, but didn’t, and now, won’t.

In the dream, and in my waking life, the underlying struggle is the same: I want more than anything to be able to summarize the last three years of my life in Manu’a in a way that is useful and meaningful and honest, but I just don’t know how to do that. I never have the right words, or the right opportunity. Worse, I’m not sure that anybody else cares.

You see, we spent years learning to decipher the weave of the delicate social tapestry that is the fa’asamoa, years trying to pinpoint the mores and the ideologies that drive them, years uncovering the secrets nobody wanted to tell us, the palagi, years figuring out how to live in Manu’a. Samoa was, and in many ways still is, a mystery to me. So much of my energy went in to the myriad ways I might solve the puzzle of Manu’a. It was necessary–how could I help the children there if I made no attempt to understand them?–but it took a lot out of me.

The Beard & sweet Noa

The Beard & sweet Noa

It really hurts me how useless all of this information is to me now, and so I try to share it in my dreams. Three of the most important years of my life, and no way to explain any of it. I dream them up, those new young expats, and try to tell them.

I want them to know the hard stuff, but I also want them to know what to say and to whom to say it, how to ask that question in Samoan, who to speak to or serve first, how to accept a gift, when to sit, who is related to whom, which students learn best using which methods, what material was covered in their English classes over the last three years, how to pronounce a hundred different Samoan homographs, how to keep ants out of your kitchen sponges, the easiest way to tie a lavalava so your thigh isn’t showing, which parents you should never call for discipline, where to find the best sea glass, the names of all the village dogs and how they are related to one another, when to pull weeds, the names of all the coves/beaches, who to call for a ride, which kids you can invite in the house and which ones to watch around your valuables, etc, etc, etc. I want them to tell them everything. They are the only ones who might care.

And yea, okay, another thing: though I am staunchly against service trips as a method of self-discovery, I learned a lot about myself in Samoa (obvs). One of the most shocking things was this: I am really, really uptight. Seriously. I’m pretty sure I had a reputation for it over there. Before AmSam, I had lived a good 27 years of my life thinking I was so laid back and easy going and then BAM! I learn that I’m not. I think the moment I realized this about myself went like this:

Me: “I mean, I guess sometimes I can be really anal about stuff.”
Volunteer: (laughs really hard) “Ya think?”
Me: “oh.”

And so I am aware that maybe it also comes down to this, too: I’m having a hard time giving up control.

It hurts to know that I have to let go. I have to move on. We accepted that we could not live in Manu’a forever, for the sake of our own sanity and for the sake of our relationships back in the States. And now I have to accept that I cannot live in Manu’a in my mind, either. I cannot control what’s going on in my absence. I can’t make people care any more about this one thing or any less about this other thing. It is not my responsibility to mentor expats who are 7,000 miles away and completely unaware of my existence. Whether they are being told the wrong thing (and they probably are. right now.) or they are being (unknowingly) culturally insensitive is not something I can control. Whether they play ultimate with the village children (and let the little ones play, too) is not for me to decide. Whether they share their food with Leafa & To’o is up to them. I couldn’t control these things when I was there and I can’t control them while I’m here. So I absolutely have to let go. But how?

Kamaiki Faleasao

Kamaiki Faleasao

I’ve been trying to remember and focus on the fact that some of the joy of living abroad is found in the sense of accomplishment you feel when you learn to navigate a new culture on your own. (I always worried about how much info to give new Vols arriving on island. I never wanted to rob them of the joy of discovery. I’m sorry if I ever did.)

On the runway in Fiti'uta | 8.04.11

On the runway in Fiti’uta | 8.04.11

Part of what I loved the most about our first year in Manu’a was how little information we had. We had to figure it all by ourselves. When Erin & I arrived on island (a few days before the rest of our group), we got off the plane at the airport with instructions to “ask someone if they’re going to Faleasao.” We were just two twenty-somethings, with maybe three bags between us (our luggage would come later on the boat), arriving on an island we’d never been to before with no idea where our house was or how we were supposed to get there. On top of that, we had been so badly misinformed about the amenities on island that we arrived without any food or any cash (“Don’t worry!” they said, “there’s an ATM at the airport!” They didn’t mention that it was practically abandoned). And you know what? It was exciting.

Samoan Day | 2012

Samoan Day | 2012

We didn’t know who to talk to so we talked to everybody. In the first year, Lionel (a young man in our village) taught Wes how to spear fish. Tino, though he speaks barely a word of English, burst through our front door one night to show us how to make oka–no invitation necessary. Mitch and I wandered down to the middle of the village around 2am once and ended up learning how to do an umu. Our students’ mom, Nina, showed Erin and I how to siva Samoa the evening before she and I were to perform the dance in front of about 300 people. We didn’t rely on the been-there-done-that American on island to show us the way. We had to figure it out on our own. No, better than that, we got to figure it on our own. I’m so grateful for that.

But the next two years were spent un-learning the bad habits we picked up our first year. Our Samoan friends and neighbors were so forgiving of our ignorance (and loud, clumsy American-ness) the first year, but by the second year they wondered why we didn’t speak more Samoan? Why we didn’t know what, to them, was common knowledge. They began to confide in us about the rude things the other Americans were doing or had done in the past, things we had done ourselves just last year before figuring out what was and was not taboo. I started to see just how steep the learning curve is–just how short and inadequate ten months of volunteer service really is.

I’m not saying by any means that I have it all figured out. I think I could spend my life in Manu’a and never have Manu’a figured out. What I am saying is that I have all of this experience, all of this learning and growth and appreciation and, yea, even some all-out cynicism and a million other things, both wonderful and messy, that Samoa poured out all over me, and absolutely no outlet for any of it. I am bursting at the seams.

The whole Manu'a group, with our WT Field Director | 2012

The whole Manu’a group, with our WT Field Director | 2012

There are eleven volunteers in Manu’a this year, an incredibly large number for those tiny islands, and yet that’s only eleven people in the world, out of seven billion, who might (just maybe) care at all about anything I have to say about an island, a village, a community, a culture, that has been my life for three years. Is it so crazy that I want to tell them something? That I want to make it a little easier for them by speeding up the process of realization?

If they start knowing that, despite appearances, major cultural differences do exist and will eat them up inside if they aren’t constantly cognizant of them, maybe they will get more out of their time there. Maybe they will be able to help the children of Manu’a a little bit better than we did.

But I know that these dreams are not really about the teachers who have replaced us at Manu’a High School. They’re not about whoever-Leafa’s-new-neighbor-is. They’re not about lesson plans or Achieve3000 or keeping Lolo & Kele safe. They’re about me and the difficulty I have had answering the question everyone asks:

“So how was it over there?”

In my waking life, I say something like, “Oh… it was great. Samoa is a really complex place… It was hard, but we loved it!”

But in my dreams, standing in our front yard in Faleasao, watching the kids playing by the beach below, hissing the dogs away from the hesitant new Americans, standing face-to-face with these blurry dream versions of our former selves, I can try to tell the truth. And there is always so much more to say.

Rainbow from Ofu Beach

Rainbow from Ofu Beach

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Coming “Home”

What I hope is the hardest part of our journey to the States (leaving Manu’a) is over. We still have a week left on the main island to tie-up loose ends, buy those impulsive souvenirs, and prepare for our repatriation.

I’m thankful that we have these two weeks in Tutuila before we leave for the States to focus on re-entry. Tutuila is a small island, too, but it is far larger and far more developed than Manu’a. In some ways, being here is like being in another country entirely. There are big all-in-one stores, side roads, too many cars, countless restaurants, thousands of people, and a whole lot of noise. The other day we were in Forsgren’s (which is kind of like an old Walmart–how they were before everything got “super”), looking at a huge selection of vitamins, and all I could think was that Tutuila is just like America. Here in Tutu’ila, we can have salad and V8 and hot showers and two-ply toilet paper and internet-at-home. But we still have to pay $9 for a head of iceberg lettuce; we still have to be aware, vigilant even!, of the terrifying feral dogs everywhere. It’s a perfect transitional phase: two weeks on an island that is somehow neither and both American and Samoan.

I have been reading The Art of Coming Home by Craig Storti to help me prepare for our transition back (thanks, Alison!). The first chapter addresses the ways in which home, by its very definition, is no longer home at all–and all the disappointment and disillusionment that come with such a realization.

Home [is] the place where you belong and feel safe and secure and where you can accordingly trust your instincts, relax, and be yourself…the place where you feel “at home.”[…] This place you have arrived in can become home again, even as it once was before you went abroad, but in the meantime it will feel very much like a foreign country.

Despite the excitement and joy I feel about returning to Georgia, there is a sense of dread, of uncertainty, clinging to me; it is not unlike the feeling I had when I first came here three years ago. (All that self-doubt and overconfidence swirling around inside–are we really going to do this? what if it sucks? what if i’m just terrible at my job? what if there are spiders?! oh my gosh this is going to be awesome!)

Some of the reverse culture shock can be anticipated–I have experienced it here in Tutu’ila, in NZ on Christmas breaks, and every summer when we’ve been in the States. The book warns that home visits are not really small glimpses into repatriation, though, and I’m trying to prepare for that. Yes, the stores have an amazing selection of vegetables. Yes, the pace of life is much faster. Yes, being on time is important. All of those things are understood and processed easily enough. What I’m more afraid of are the larger distinctions between this culture in which I’ve become so enmeshed, and the culture in which I spent the first 27 years of my life. I’m afraid of the materialism and the waste. I’m afraid of the pervasive technology. I’m afraid of the go go go, the not having time to talk, the not knowing the neighbors, the oh-so-direct communication, the complaining, the excess, the emphasis on perfection, the stranger danger, etc.

Storti makes a distinction between people who have enjoyed a typical ex-pat lifestyle abroad (company car, household help, tight-knit community of expats) and international volunteers or service-oriented expats, who are more likely (by necessity) to become immersed in the local community and culture. I think we fall somewhere in the middle as far as comforts go–we did have a TV after all. But we have made every effort over the years to become as involved in the community as we could. We have worked hard toward a deeper relationship with our neighbors and students, a deeper understanding of the fa’asamoa. I never stopped to consider that one day I’d have to stop diving deeper and swim back up to the surface. It seems so abrupt, like I finally figured out how to live here and now we’re leaving.

Needless to say, for these volunteers the foreign culture becomes home in a much more profound way than it does for the typical expatriate, who normally lives much more on the periphery of the local culture. And the readjustment to their real home, therefore, is likewise much more intense.

This book lists a few of the particular challenges that returnees face, including the shock of abundance and excess materials, the unappreciative attitudes, and the quick pace of life. (All things I’m worried about!) and ways to adjust more smoothly back to your home culture. He gives a particular word of warning for those who, like us, have become more involved in their host community/culture:

You will probably want to give yourself more time to readjust than typical expatriates, and you should also take special care not to be too hard on your compatriots or your home country. After all, you used to like these people and this place, so you can probably learn to do so again, if you’re patient. And patience, God knows, is the one thing you surely must have learned when you were overseas.

He couldn’t be more right about that last part. Just a quick example: in order for the local government to complete my returning travel arrangements and exit clearances, we were given an exit form to take to every gov’t office in Tutu’ila and have signed. It’s basically just a form saying we don’t owe any money. So, our friend let us borrow her truck and we spent about 5 hours one morning running all over this island to get our signatures (hospital, tax office, water, electric, phone, development bank, police station, etc etc etc). We finally bring our completed exit form in to the personnel office (so incredibly stoked that we were able to get it done in one day!) and just as the woman is finishing everything up for us, she turns to The Beard and asks “Where’s yours?” The gave ME a form, but not my spouse. So we had to do it all again. (This is all very funny now, just days later, but at the time it was not funny at all. Not at all.)

So yea, we’ve got a bit more patience than we had before. But I’d like to ask our friends and family back home to be patient with us, too. In addition to the weird reverse culture shock adjustment stuff, we will be going through a lot of other changes. Jet lag, career changes, moving house, etc.

We will be home next week. To be honest I’m already a little overwhelmed by the requests for face-to-face time. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had actual hang-out plans with friends in the last year, and usually those are made very last-minute. Now we’re struggling to schedule weekends in July and August and I’m just so amazed that you guys already know what you are going to be doing then. I still feel hesitant about telling people the date of our return flight, just in case, ya know, the plane doesn’t come.

So, please, have patience with us. We want to see you, but it may not be right away. Just give us a few days to adjust. We want to get to know you guys again, to rekindle all those awesome friendships, to admire your Dominion skills, to hear about your new job, to meet your new spouse and/or kids, to check out your new place, to break more than a few loaves of bread with you. We really do. Forgive us when and if we are weird or awkwardly quiet or overwhelmed. And please, if we talk too much about Manu’a, tell us to stop.

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