I always have a bit of difficulty transitioning back to my home here in Arusha. I’m not alone in this, I know, for I have heard some of my friends say the same. Once you’re here for a while, you forget what it feels like to be home and you transition back to a Tanzanian-Mzungu-normal. By far, this time back has certainly been the easiest transition for me. When I initially moved to Arusha, the first three days were actually nauseatingly stressful for me and the nights were sleeplessly torturous. The second time I went home and came back, I had a breakdown suddenly while doing crunches on the floor of my room. Weird, right? I was so upset that I had an iphone and as I laid there on the ground, I promised myself I sell the iphone and give the money away. (this iphone was later stolen, so the universe works it all out…) The third time I went home and came back, there was no emotional breakdown but I did find myself going out and drinking a lot more than normal with old friends for the first week I was back. This is my fourth and final time (at least for now) that I have gone home and will come back. No tears, no desire to binge on chocolate or drinks, but there’s just this guilt.
The first kind of guilt comes from reevaluating what I want in life. When one comes to an African country as a 20-something year old, you feel this sense of pride, of calling, of duty to help fix this place. Of course, this is fueled by every one’s oo-ing and ahh-ing when you tell them you’re going to Tanzania for two years. You land here knowing that you’re going to CHANGE THE WORLD! For some time, I’ve gabbed on about living here, or in Haiti, or in some hot and dirty place. But, at some point since I’ve been here, I’ve come to accept that this may not be the path for me. I do love this place, and I do love its challenges, but I struggle emotionally even still with being away from the comforts of home. I start to doubt my original noble goals, realize my human weaknesses, and the guilt sinks in for not being stronger.
The second feeling of contrition comes from that which I cannot control—my place of birth. At some point, I started to wonder why I should have the luck to be born in America and have all of the opportunities that I do, while the majority of Tanzanians never have the hopes to leave East Africa, or even the country. Why, I could go and find an apartment in downtown Atlanta, search for a job, and live in complete comfort (and probably boredom, I might add). Ok, but I have the choice. But, I’m not sure if I could compete in the job market in America these days, being a musician and all. Isn’t it better to be a prized musician in a small city than another classically trained musician in a metropolis? I’m not quite sure which is scarier to me, really.
I have an audition for graduate school tomorrow, here in Arusha. I’m hoping it will take me to Finland to get my masters next year. But, I’m nervous about the audition, and I’m sad to be missing people from home, and then there’s this guilt on top of it all. Oh, I forgot the third kind of guilt—why do I feel so sorry for myself when I have SO much? Friends, family, very comfortable living, good clothes, money to go see movies and eat out at restaurants, an awesome job, people who I love and who love me, musical skill, an exciting and beautiful place to live. Seriously, sometimes I wish someone would just come splash cold water in my face and say, “dani! Wake up!”