Have I actually been here for seven months?
It seems like forever, or no time at all. What it doesn't feel like is what it is: over half a year (just that little, just that much) spent in a new place.
But is it really a new place? How can it be, when so many things feel so familiar?
There's a part of me that fails to recognize how exotic my life - when viewed through the eyes of most of my readers - might seem. It's only when I contemplate returning home (home? Where is that, exactly?) that I realize this life has not always been, nor will it always be, as it is now.
Maybe I won't always go grocery shopping in labyrinthine markets, where some of the vendors know us by sight and throw in extra produce for free.
Maybe there will come a day when crossing the road won't be an adventure of epic proportions.
When almost getting hit by a car is actually a big deal again.
Where a healthy prayer life can be viewed as an extra, instead of an essential.
Maybe there will be a time when morning outings won't involve a walk in deliciously chilly morning air and chappas that are rush-hour full.
Maybe I'll live in places where street-sweepers are a quaint commodity of the 19th century, and vehicles have taken the place of a troop of ladies with wheelbarrows and twig brooms.
Where rain doesn't turn the thoroughfares into swamps.
Where sidewalks and roads don't require special navigational skills.
Where colors are less riotous
Where food, shoes, cell phone minutes, aren't available on every street corner.
Maybe I'll live with people who don't greet me with kisses on the cheek.
Who aren't willing to chat - endlessly and about almost anything - at seemingly any hour of the day or night.
Who don't try to take advantage of me because I look different.
Who don't go out of their way to help me because I look different.
Who don't walk with effortless dignity and grace.
Who don't have a treasure trove of lessons to teach me about hard work, joy, and faith.
Who don't use affectionate, familial titles: querida, irmã, amada, tia, amiga.
Who don't offer me chicken.
Maybe there'll be a day when I can communicate effortlessly, in my own language, without constant grammatical foul-ups.
But if that day comes, I'll miss out on a lot of laughs. The thrill of a flawlessly executed sentence, at last. The excitement and disbelief on the faces of my Mozambican friends.
Você fala bem português!
Of course, I miss the things I left behind. I miss my family, my friends, grass, woods, hills. Pet dogs. Anonymity. Not having to struggle with numbers.
But I've gained an environment that forces me to live a little more attentively, more deeply, more thoughtfully.
A good place in which to be alive.