Change is good, but change is hard. Things are changing, both outside and inside of me.
My body is different. Back in New Mexico, I woke up early each morning to exercise. I eat a lot but try to choose wisely. I'm in good physical condition. When I arrived in Lubutu my diet went to hell. There is a culture of chocolate here next to none. Every person coming to visit the project is laden with kilograms of Belgian chocolates. Each week, when the guests arrive, we feast. I ate more chocolate the first month here than in the rest of my life combined.
This has led to shiftiness. My swimmer's back and shoulders have shifted down to my waistline. All the pants I brought are tight. The buckles are using the last hole in my belts. Is this "normal" aging? If so, it's not doing great things for my psyche.
After my fall and injury two weeks ago, I stopped exercising. I couldn't swim because I had a big hole in my elbow. I wore a large bandage and my arm hurt. This morning I returned to running. My route is still out the road to Kindu but I don't go up the big steep hill anymore. Oddly, this morning at 5:45 a.m., the alarm rang, and I thought: "do you really need to do this?" Why is that odd? To those not suffering from exercise obsessive-compulsive disorder, the question is logical. But to me who works out each morning without fail, it's a revelation. Yes, you too can become less neurotic! If I can, anyone can.
The language is changing for me. French is coming easier. When I arrived, before saying anything I had to think and plan my words in advance. No more. With chit-chat conversations I now just talk, no thinking required. This is not to give the impression that I am developing anything near verbal fluency. I often run into Great Walls of Incomprehension. I backtrack, describe something (rather than name it), or flip into English. But often the words come without thinking.
One change is not working out so well. The novelty of Lubutu has worn off. Yes it is still lovely and fun. I walked home tonight and the beautiful sunset reminded me how lucky I am to be here. But things have changed. The commute to Mungele does not fly by anymore. It now feels like an hour, sometimes a long hour. My walk to Kalibatete is 16 sweating minutes each way. I still occasionally discover new things on this route. Yesterday I ran across a beauty parlor where the clients sit outdoors on the ground and have colored threads braided into their hair. I walk this route 12 times per week and it feels like it.
How to overcome the beginnings of boredom? The logical answer is to look for things that are different- patients with new diseases, the arrangement of fabrics for sale in the market, the people I greet and who sometimes walk with me. I still have many remaining goals and challenges here. It's just not fresh and new anymore. Perhaps I should go running, eat some chocolate and count my blessings. In French.