I say it more for myself than anyone who might read this blog; consistent readership has held steady at my sister and my coworkers, and by this point, I should hope they all know where I live.
It’s still to early for it to really sink in. Sitting around my apartment, with my blinds closed to the brown grass and dusty parking lot outside of my windows, it’s easy to forget which city I’m in: I could be anywhere. I still find myself feeling momentarily surprised when I walk out of my apartment to see a parking lot and not a metro stop.
It will take a while to adjust to this new everyday. To driving again, and at a legally mandated snail’s pace. To country music on all two of the radio stations my car picks up. To lots of white people, and lots of men, and lots of cowboy hats. To quiet.
I have an unending reserve of patience for animals, children and the elderly, which leaves very little patience to spread around to everything else, least of all myself. I’m finding it hard to wait to feel comfortable with no guarantee that it will happen. I want to be happy right this second, and I want to find my place here.
So much of this experience reminds me of when I was in the Republic of Georgia. I lived in a town that couldn’t have had more than 1000 people; it didn’t even have street names. Three months of misery culminated in a very public, very ugly crying fit on a bench outside a tech store in the capital because I couldn’t buy an internet stick without my passport. I called my mom on my dinky government-issued phone because I needed to hear that I could come home, any time I was ready, and I knew that my sweet, enabling mother would say those exact words.
I didn’t take her up on the offer, of course; somehow, those first three awful months of internally kicking and screaming at everything about the country gave way to three months of, if not quite love, then mutual respect. I started to understand how to navigate my way around life there. My language skills got better, I travelled to other parts of the country, I found myself a proper Georgian man who knew just enough English to not talk too much.
The culture shock of North Dakota isn’t quite as quaint and novel as it had been in Georgia, but I’m trying to keep the two linked. I have to give this a chance. Every time I try to justify leaving far too early and going back to D.C. with my tail tucked between my legs, I remind myself that I owe this place, and myself, a little more patience.