I just… I’m in the US! Is this place real? It’s so green. And people are so nice. And I can understand everything. And there are things. There are resources. Like, I can go to a drug store and buy contact solution. Or get vitamins. Or Reese’s peanut butter cups.

And I can get ANY type of food here! Yesterday I went out to brunch! And the waitress gave me free refills of Stumptown coffee. Like, not Nescafe. REAL COFFEE.

And the clothes! People wear actual, moveable clothes: sneakers, and raincoats, and running shorts, and knit hats. And there are tattoos here. And dreads. And weird vintage clothes – clothes that are all different. Like yellow velvet dresses, cut-off jean shorts, strappy pink tank tops (on men), floor-length paisley cover-ups.

There are opportunities here, and people I love, and things to do. It’s so laughingly easy to get stuff done. There are road signs and web sites and menus in English and iPhones with maps on them.

God, this city is weird. I’m in heaven.

I’m staying with my two lovely awesome friends, Andrew and Leah. Leah picked me up from the airport Saturday night, and the next morning this was the view from the living room window:


It’s so greeeeeeeeeeen. Mountains, trees. And there are road lines and stoplights. And the cars are actually parked on the side of the road, in designated parking space. Not on the sidewalk, not in the middle of a lane. In the designated parking spaces.

If I ever take this place for granted, EVER, I’m going back to Iraq, just so I can have this giddy-grateful feeling again.


Things here seem distorted, like I’m looking at them through a goldfish bowl. Magnified, sudden, shiny and blurry at once. It’s intense.

On the one hand, I’m here and I fit and things seem familiar, although I often don’t remember something until it’s right in front of me (like what internet cafes look like, or the taste of a breakfast sausage). People don’t look at me like I’m a grasshopper in human clothes. I don’t stick out, I’m one of the crowd, but not forgotten – everyone returns a smile and strangers enjoy chatting on the sidewalk. Kurdistan seems like a strange dream I had after eating too much ice cream before bed. It’s almost easy to forget what I was doing last year.

On the other hand, Kurdish words pop out without thought. am katet bash. And almost without knowing I’m saying it, I compare Portland to Iraq. It’s barely conscious. choni! Like my whole year in Iraq is this only slightly noticeable itch in the back of my head, a tiny but persistent little bug bite that insists it be noticed. bez ahmed. I can easily slip back into my American body (though it’s like my American life has had the color contrast turned up) but when I do turn my full attention to Portland, I know there’s something I’m forgetting, something about Portland that just doesn’t add up.

Still, I’m relaxed. Jet lagged, but happy.

One thought on “BACK IN THE USA!

  1. Welcome home! It’s great to hear you enjoying it. They told me that I’d have more culture shock upon my return than upon going abroad. I’m not quite sure how that worked out, but it will be interesting for you to track your feelings over the next weeks to see how you manage it all. Do let me know when you come to Walla Walla!

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