My "Breakdown" Moment
Updated: Feb 10, 2020
After my first term in Venezuela was cut short, I returned to the states briefly while transitioning to Colombia. My flight arrived in New Jersey at about 12:30 am and after sleeping I was up and running errands to prepare a car for use. One of my first stops what to get an oil change. Simple enough. I took a coupon over to Jiffy Lube and was in and out in about 20 minutes. My next stop was to Target, the first place I saw where I could get a car charger for my phone. This was going to be a necessity with an older phone to ensure I had enough battery life as I travelled. I entered Target and headed to the back where the electronics were kept. I found a decent charger quickly enough and started back towards the front of the store. I don't know if it was a subconscious act or just coincidence, but I chose a path that led me to this sight.
I have many friends who have lived around the world in various cultures and they all seem to say the same things. There is a moment when they return to the United States and they are confronted with an abundance of choices and can not make a decision. For most, it was the grocery store. A bag of chips, a box of cereal, what brand of milk. The choice in itself is not so major. It usually boils down to preference rather than life or death. Some have told me they couldn't make a decision and left without anything. It seems silly. Even to those telling the story, but it's real. Very real. My moment feels silly today but I can still feel the emotions of my moment even now, almost 4 years later.
I was walking though the diapers aisle and my reflexes kicked in. You see in Venezuela diapers were a rare find. Not Luvs with leak guard, Huggies with aloe, or insert brand name here with the latest super hero/cartoon character on the side, Diapers period! It didn't matter the size. I had adapted a mentality that if I spotted diapers anywhere, I would buy them. There wasn't an option of choosing a brand. If the Usually this would be a purchase at a bodega and it usually involved convincing the attendant that I was able to pay for all of them, not just one and I am not asking to buy them at the regular price for the whole pack. I was willing to pay the price they are selling an individual diaper x the number of diapers they have.
So there I was, frozen, staring at a wall of diapers. A back and forth conversation in my mind that went something like this:
-Why are we stopping?
~What kind should we buy?
-What do you mean? We don't need to buy diapers.
~There are soo many to choose from. How much can we afford?
-WE DON'T NEED DIAPERS!
This continued for about 10 minutes until I was able to pull myself away. When I got to the checkout line I was close to losing it. The cashier said something normal like how are you doing today, to which I replied "I'm sorry! I have to go." They rang me out quickly and I went outside where I broke down in my car for about 15 minutes overwhelmed with emotion from what I had just experienced.
I eventually got beyond this moment and was able to function, but this was just a taste of what I would experience when I returned from Colombia. It was a bit easier having Megan to talk to about what I was feeling and hear what she was feeling as well. It reminds me of an letter I had read a few years prior from Ruthie on the Rocky Re-entry site. She speaks to those who are returning in a very direct and caring way and she nails it when she says "moving back to their home country is the hardest part of the whole experience". I love point number 6 that re-entry is an opportunity to connect with God in new ways. I found this to be especially true in my life and time that I have been back in the states. My relationship with Him has brought me to a different understanding of myself and prepared me for the season ahead.