I've been postponing writing this post because it's hard to know what to say. It's been 6 weeks since we left Moldova, and I'm still having a hard time figuring out how to talk about it. It was a place of so much growth, for all of us. It definitely wasn't enough time to truly get to know the country, and I feel like I had just started to settle in and really get comfortable at the time that we left.
Living in Moldova changed a lot about how we thought about the world (and our place in it as Americans--seriously, it was an odd year to live abroad!), about what material things we thought we needed (you decide you can live without a lot when it's more difficult than a Walmart run away), and what we were capable of (learning two more languages! and a whole different culture!)
People keep asking me how I feel about it, and I guess how I feel is this: it was the hardest thing I ever did, and I'm glad we got to do it. I miss Moldova, and the people we met there, and the great food (Cheap, delicious cantaloupe gelato! Mamaliga with tender roasted pork and onions and sour cream! Placinte! Crisp, flaky pastries for 50 cents! Wow, I REALLY miss the food!). I even miss speaking Russian every day. I miss the great preschool the kids went to (it was soooo cheap, which I knew, but it's really in contrast these days by how much we're paying for some minimal daycare for Miri while I finish my degree).
I miss my wonderful, zany Russian teacher Olga (pictured below). This woman was my lifeline when I needed one the most. Back in October, when I felt like I was drowning in a new culture, when I couldn't do anything or go anywhere by myself because I couldn't speak Romanian or Russian, when literally the only other adult I regularly spoke to was Jesse (because of said lack of language skills), I started taking Russian lessons with Olga. At first, learning was slow and painful, but honestly, in some ways I felt like I was paying to have someone besides Jesse to talk to. Over time, learning went quicker (and sometimes not quicker--Olga and I had a few good laughs over one word that, no matter how many times we reviewed the word, I just couldn't remember it!), and the world outside of our apartment started to open up to me. I started to be able to go places and do things by myself without panicking. I started to feel like a full human again. And weekly lessons with Olga continued to be a great outlet. I tried to say some of these things to Olga at our last lesson, to express some of my gratitude for the great service she had given me. I hope I succeeded. She gave me such a gift.
And, silly as it seems, I miss the view of red-roofed Soviet-era buildings out our window. I miss hearing music from the central park out our windows in the summer. I miss hearing dozens of cars honking in the afternoons on Fridays and Saturdays as all of Moldova came to Chisinau to get married.
I miss taking public transit everywhere (having to own a car is the worst!) and walking miles to buy peanut butter. I miss the picture stump (we need to find a new location for something like that!) Speaking of which, I compiled all of the picture stump pictures into a video, and it sort of blows my mind to see how little the kids were when we moved, versus how big they are now. I love them!
Obviously I didn't love everything about living in Moldova. Some things were annoying, or too hard, or frustrating, and the language barrier would have still proved to be a large boundary for a long time yet. I didn't love that it would have been very difficult for me to work there, had we stayed longer, and it would have been hard for me to find enough social involvement to feel truly satisfied.
But Moldova was a good home to us. It's sort of weird to feel homesick for a country that's not mine, that I didn't even live in for that long. But that's how I'm feeling right now, 6 weeks out. I know it'll fade (just like my desperate longing for Ann Arbor has dulled with time), and that makes me feel sort of sad. But it's for the best. Life is lived right now, with the people we're with now. Home is where is where the people I love are, and I'm glad to be with them still.