>> 24 August 2015
I have been crying a lot in the last few weeks, because for all my travel fortitude and unreasonable love of sitting on planes, I don't actually handle transition well. The blog has been quiet because I made an early and unannounced exit from Dili under happy but rushed circumstances. I've been back in the US for just over a month, and I miss Timor every single moment of every single day. I don't want to be here. I want to go home.
But that's another story. Today's story is about the worst blow I've suffered since I've been 'back'. People in Dili asked me, "Melody, what are you looking forward to when you get home?" and I usually said "my office!". Most people say things like: hamburgers! traffic laws! white people! streaming internet! my family/friends! Mexican food!, but not me. I felt like I had enough of all of that in my modest life in Timor already. With enough preparation, I could and did make any of my favorite dishes: chili, carnitas, gumbo, biscuits and gravy, all my favorite curries, pot roast, king ranch chicken, anything! My friends and coworkers became as close and complicated as family. I felt like I knew where I was and who I was and what I was doing. For possibly the first time in my life, everything was exactly the way I wanted it and I was happy.
Fast forward to the last couple of weeks. I've been in Honolulu, the bad manners and racist capital of what has come to be my world, attending a two-week orientation to a school I have already been attending for 4 years. My friends and my partner have left- I am alone. I live in a 4ft x 7ft x 14ft container, sharing a bathroom and kitchen with 50 other people. I have no transportation, and everything is even more expensive than I remember it. But, I knew it was going to be this way. I was prepared for all these things, and they didn't matter, because I still had one safe haven to come 'home' to. One constant in the back of my mind upon which I pinned my hopes for a productive and calm semester. I had my office.
My office is perfect. It has a perfect L-shaped desk, full of perfect office supplies (left over from a retired faculty and painstakingly organized by me), with a perfect chair, and a perfect window, and two perfect bookshelves on either side, and a perfect filing cabinet behind. All of my things have sat neatly organized for the last year, awaiting my return. And when Dili was too much for me, I thought of that bright, quiet, clean little place and that was all I needed to find my own refuge and to be ok. "Soon," I thought, "I'll be back in my perfect office and no matter what else is wrong in my life, I'll have my calm center of the universe."
It is perfect.
And it is no longer mine.
The details of the circumstances frustrate me too much to articulate, but I cried for a solid, inconsolable hour when I found out. And then I cried two or three more times for good measure, once in front of the office staff when they took my keys, and once in front of a faculty member for no reason other than that I was still upset about it. I hate this place, I hate this university, I hate being in grad school, and I never, ever feel better.