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Sera goes to Washington D.C.
4 January 2004

"Why is Okonkwo with us today?  This is not his clan.  We are only his mother's kinsmen.  He does not belong here.  He is an exile, condemned for seven years to live in a strange land.  And so he is bowed with grief."
        --Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Hi Zac,

It's hard to believe I'm sitting up in my old bedroom in Mansfield writing to you in Namibia. We seem so far apart. It's not too bad being here, and in some ways, it's nice to be back. The difficult part is not being there, in Namibia. I've got this deep ache inside of me whenever I think about it. I keep hoping it will lessen or go away, but so far it has not. I still cry whenever I think about my current situation, which makes conversing with people about it tricky. I have to talk about it and explain it without actually thinking about it. I can't stop analyzing and regretting everything. But, enough about this.

So here is what has happened since we parted on Christmas eve. In the airport in Windhoek, I took out my journal and tried to write to pass the time.  I read through what I had written on the way to Namibia. One of the things I wrote, on October 25, 2002, really stood out as true, in retrospect. I wrote, " I cannot, at this point, begin to comprehend the enormity of what we're doing, and how it will change our lives, I can only know that it is enormous." When I read that, it brought on a fit of tears because I now knew exactly how enormous the experience was that I was leaving.

At the airport in Washington D.C. I was surprised to find my parents waiting for me. I didn't expect it at all, but I was happy because I was a little worried about being alone. We drove around the parking garage about 5 times before they were able to find the exit. We finally got to the hotel and  checked in ok. It was a nice hotel, but kind of old because some parts were cracked and falling apart. We called a bunch of restaurants trying to find one that was open for Christmas dinner. We finally found one that was very close--a seafood place. We were the only people there, and they had just one menu item--roast beef. It was ok, but I could barely eat.

Friday morning, I reported to the hospital at 6, filled out all the paper work and then they said the surgery wasn't until 11:30. I went into the little room around 9:00 and they did the blood work stuff and put the I.V. in me. About 11:00 the surgeon shows up, examines me and decides not to give me surgery until I can move my arm again. Could it get any worse? I couldn't take it, and I just broke down crying--again. Kind of funny that I cried when they told me I needed surgery and then I cried again when I didn't get it. To add to the frustration, we had to wait until Monday to visit the Peace Corps office and decide what to do. After the non-surgery, we walked around a little bit and found a place to have lunch. We got salad and pizza, but I still could barely eat even although I didn't have any breakfast. I think all this stress is a good diet plan. We didn't really do anything the rest of that day.

On Saturday, we took the metro downtown to the mall. We went to a lot of Smithsonian museums--mostly art ones. The galleries we visited had a lot of Asian art, which I always like. The last one we went to was modern art. One of the exhibits was a room full of paper. It was interactive, because people were allowed to go into it. It did seem funny, like, "What will happen if you let stuffy art gallery people into a room filled with paper?" Some buried themselves in it, other threw it around, some sat looking uncomfortable. It was my favorite thing. The last thing was we went to the Air and Space museum's planetarium where the guy gave a star talk on the Astronomy of Tolkein. Basically, he explained every reference to stars in the entire trilogy and showed what the night sky would have looked like at each part. I tried my best, for you, but I still fell asleep for part of it. I'm sure it was the jet-lag.

On Sunday, we didn't do much, because everything was closed. That afternoon we did walk to the Iwa-Jima memorial since it was near our hotel. It's the one with all the brave men pushing up the flag pole. 

Monday morning we had to go to the doctor's office first, where he examined me again and took x-rays. Then he said the same thing again, that I need therapy then surgery. Then we went to the Peace Corps office and I met with Tracy, the nurse handling my case. She was fine with the idea of getting everything moved to Mansfield and they agreed to fly me home with the assumption that I would get medically separated. I managed to get through that without crying. So my parents drove home that day, and I spent the rest of the day and the first part of Tuesday running all over the building meeting with all the COS people, getting my plane ticket, getting numerous forms signed, etc. Everyone was pretty business-like, until the very last person I met with on Tuesday. She was like the med-sep/COS counselor or something. She talked to me about other options, my plans for the future, my DOS and such things. But she was the first person to really care, and she kept saying, "I'm so sorry this is happening to you." She just seemed to know how much it all meant to me.

For some reason, the final flight back to Columbus on Tuesday, Dec 30, was really emotional for me. I guess it was just the finality of all. Luckily, the plane was really empty and there was no one sitting near me, so I could cry a little without anyone noticing. An interesting thing I observed from the air was that the arrangement of the farms strongly resembled the arrangement of the homesteads that I had seen from the air on my flight from Ondangwa to Windhoek. I guess I never considered the similarity before just because I never paid much attention to farms here.

My sister and her boyfriend met me at the airport and took me out to El Vaquero near University village to eat. So I finally got my Mexican food! After that, we went back to their new house. It's huge!!! For new year's eve, I went with them to some friend's of theirs. They were pretty nice, not too interested in Namibia (I only talk about it if people ask, because I don't want to end up like Shirley). It was a nice time though, with lots of yummy food. Being around their friends made me realize how lucky we are in our fellow volunteer friends. I think conversation will forever seem dull when compared to Namibian stories. One girl had nothing else to talk about besides her horror that Bath and Body Works was discontinuing their Country Apple scent.

Friday morning I met with the Mansfield doctor. He seems competent--he said the exact same thing as the D.C. doctor. I explained to him the February 8th deadline, and so he said he'd definitely get me in before that. I'm so depressed when I think about how much time has been wasted, and how much time I still have to go. So I'll do physical therapy here in Mansfield, then get surgery.

Well Zac, I hope everything is going well for you and the chickens. Greet all the learners for me.

Love, Sera

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