Being in a different country is like living in a parallel universe. The similarities and differences are felt but not always seen. They creep up on you sometimes and when they do, you start to see things very clearly. Things you never really noticed before. Things about America, my home sweet poem. I'll even remember strange things that I never actually said back home, but have now come into my life, like proverbs.
My last days in New York seem like this still image that I imagine staying the same until I get back, after the Peace Corps. Maybe this idea isn't too far from the truth. When I left in September, there was an old washing machine on my mom and dad's front lawn. When I talked to them a couple months later, it was still there, sinking into the grass. I was convinced that when I came home two years later, it would still be there, (or sunken halfway to China, at least). It has since been moved and my safe little sheltered still image has now become a motion film. For example: (1) my sister finished graduate school, passed her exam, and is now looking for a social work job; (2) Hurricane Sandy destroyed my Mom's car and she now has a new one; and (3) My younger siblings and cousins are growing up!
Because I am so far away, I thought that my old universe would be on pause until I return. Part of it is, since I'm living a different life. My new Ukrainian universe will hold me over until my triumphant return (bells, parades, tears, bottle clanks please). Sometimes, though, I peak back at my old self, and the family and friends that surrounded me, and in doing so, I have created another universe--one that is a combination of old and new, change and stagnation, knowing and unknowing. That's when I realize that even though they are thousands of miles away, life is still moving, even though I'm not there to witness it first hand. So, I've figured it out. I'm living in three universes at once: Home, as in my still life in New York; Home, as in where my body rests on my uncomfortable bed in Ukraine; and Home, in limbo, browsing the different worlds of my existence--whether it's via facebook or my own dreams.
I can definitely count more than three universes in my life...There's the one where I daydream about the real possibilities of me going to Mars to start a colony (check this out and you'll understand me better), the one where I don't leave my apartment for two days, the one where I can only go to sleep if I watch Star Trek: Next Generation, the one where I obsessively look up graduate school programs and wonder about my future, the one where I pinch myself for not being able to be completely in the moment (because of all the other universes pulling at my heart strings?!!?!?!).
Is this a disease? If it is, I've got it and I've been living with it my whole life. So, if you suffer from the constant attention that parallel universes demand, embrace it. It's an adventure.