I’ve been back in Manhattan for about a week now, working with Bennett on the business side of the Hope on a String operation. To get to the office, I board the subway on the upper west side and take it down to Times Square. It’s a short walk to the office building, where I enter the security lobby and have a new “guest sticker” printed for me every day. I take the elevator up to the Sky Lobby where I continue on across the large hall to the elevator bank. I enter the floor number of the office into a kiosk and I am electronically directed to one of the thirty elevators. On the way up to the office, my ears pop. The office window looks out onto the cesspit of lights and commotion that is Times Square.
It’s hard to fathom the reality that I am only three hours away from Patrice and the rest of my friends in Haiti. Sitting in this spaceship office building, I’m already starting to forget their faces. Three hours and one universe away. Luckily, many of my acquaintances in Corail gave me pictures to remember them by.
The first few days back were difficult: I was seeing everything through a new pair of eyes and hating it all. When I ventured out of the apartment to find some lunch, I was completely overwhelmed. Food everywhere you look—every cuisine and variation imaginable. I wandered around in a daze for almost two hours before finally going to a Subway.
It’s amazing how quickly we’re able to slip right back into the rhythm of American (US) life. I’m no longer fascinated by the water that I can drink straight from the sink and I no longer feel guilty every time I have three meals a day or charge my phone. Watching myself reintegrate into our culture here has been an uncomfortable and thought-provoking experience. Haiti has left me shaken in many ways—it has made me realize how little I really know about myself and about the world. The only thing that I know for sure, without any doubts or reservations, is that I’m going back.