For the past almost three years, Haiti has been my home. But even more than just my home, Haiti has been my life.
When I first came to Haiti, a part of my soul, one that always resided in the deepest parts of my heart, but one I had yet to fully awaken, came alive.
As my sandals first began to kick up dirt along unpaved roads, and the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen etched themselves on crevices of my heart, I felt as though I was experiencing some type of metaphysical rebirth.
I was discovering a part of myself I had never known. The part that could learn a new language, live with intermittent electricity, bathe with buckets of water, and survive immense heat and tropical viruses.
The part who could love a people so different from her own - so deeply and truly.
The part who loved every second of this adventure and continued to press forward without looking back.
Yet, amidst this very real part of myself who has fully come alive on this wildly beautiful and unpredictable island, the other parts of me are still very much real and awake.
I could never imagine my life without Haiti.
Haiti fills me with a sense of purpose and determination unlike anything ever before. And that's just it - the sense of purpose I feel stems from the knowledge of the truth that I am not in Haiti for myself whatsoever. I am here to give of myself, to pour out and serve so that others' lives might be changed... or something like that.
I think it's really easy to get wrapped up in the moralistic pedestals and facades that tend to come with a life abroad, particularly in the mission field. The types of personas that lend others to believe we have evolved into some type of saintly hero and are now suddenly void of any selfish emotions and desires.
But here's the deal.
Living here is really challenging. Like really, really difficult.
It's also really beautiful, but since I usually choose to talk about the beauty, I'm going to focus on the challenges for a minute.
For me, my struggles in Haiti don't so much stem from the obvious problems and obstacles faced within the proximity of a developing country, but more from personal needs that simply cannot find satisfaction on the island of Hispaniola.
After almost three years of living abroad, the glimmer and novelty of being an expatriate slowly begins to wear off.
The once exciting and exhilarating new experiences become regular and mundane. Your normal morphs into a new and familiar reality that encompasses adaptation to the rhythms and waves of the culture you've absorbed and claimed.
And there you are, finding yourself craving a way of life you thought you left behind. Missing certain elements, things and people that once upon a time gave you a sense of comfort, security and satisfaction.
And so you realize that little by little, your worlds have collided and your new reality is much like Diaspora Blues.
You've become this beautiful, juxtaposed dichotomy of blended worlds, stuck in a forever place of in-between with a heart that truly belongs in both places.
The truth is, this is the hardest part.
Never being fully Haitian, yet so much of myself isn't fully American, but maybe, it never truly was in the first place
However, the first world segments of my soul still exist.
They still perk up from time to time to remind me that I still need to get on a plane every so often and put a fresh, new stamp in my passport.
That I need to drink an iced latte while I walk aimlessly around large, air conditioned stores full of things that send my senses on overload.
The parts that enjoy seeing perfectly manicured lawns and front porches with swings.
In spite of the beauty of infrastructure and well-crafted architecture, I find my heart aching most for the faces, smiles and laughs of people I spent years building and cultivating beautiful friendships with.
The people who know me inside and out. The ones who you don't have to explain anything to, and can simply and unapologetically be your truest self with.
I miss inside jokes and memories of the blissful past.
I miss opening my heart without fear of judgment and humiliation.
I miss going on dates, holding hands and getting that can't eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars, over-the-fence, World Series kinda stuff - feeling.
I miss the hole in the wall restaurants, coffee shops and dive bars where so much life was lived, and so many precious memories were made.
I miss having a sense of community and constantly being surrounded by those who truly love and believe in you.
I love riding motos and feeling the wind in my hair.
I love looking up at the sky at night and seeing stars so numerous you can't help but be overwhelmed by their majesty.
I love the gorgeous Caribbean Sea that is literally minutes from my home.
I love dancing with Haitians and laughing as they watch my half Latina self shake it.
I love fried plantains and pikliz and knowing where to find the best street food.
I love hearing my name as I walk out my door.
And most of all, I love, with a deep and fierce love, the most precious and incredible people I have the pleasure of working with and serving.
So, maybe my scales will never be fully balanced... and maybe it's okay like that.
Maybe there are things, moments, and people I'll never fully let go of or stop missing.
What if there are people you never stop loving? Bits and pieces of souls that will forever be knit with yours, and what if that's okay?
What if that is the very essence, the very beauty of human existence, and what in fact brings us the most sense of life and being?
What if our hearts were designed for longing? What if they were never meant to be truly satisfied?
After all, this world truly isn't our home.
So, for now, I'm stuck in this swinging pendalum, and that's okay.
It's a beautiful dichotomy - and one day all we'll have is memories, so might as well cherish the moments as they come before they all fade away.