Peace Corps Writers
A Writer Writes
Bringing the Peace Corps Back Home
   by Meghan Maguire (Honduras 2001–03)
Read other short works about the Peace Corps experience

Law and Order: SVU = TV program Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

NOW THAT I’M BACK in the U.S., I love smelling like a girl again. I love reading The New York Times on Sunday mornings. I love being able to callPrinter friendly version my best friend just to make a joke. I love drinking Steak n’ Shake chocolate malts whenever I want. I love, and I mean love “Law and Order: SVU.”
     Now that I’m back in the U.S., I don’t miss finding mystery bug bites on my inner thighs. I don’t miss the pervasive smell of hot, mouldering trash. I don’t miss having to fight for respect as a North American woman in a Central American town. I don’t miss missing loved ones back home.
     As the last few months have disappeared however, I do find myself missing countless aspects of my time in Honduras. This morning I was sitting in front of my computer at work when it suddenly hit me that this is my favorite time of year in Honduras: when the mornings and evenings are cool and clear, and the blooming bougainvillea signals the start of the dry season. I had to put my face in my hands for a moment to be okay with where I was.
     I am not alone in this returned Volunteer nostalgia. It is the final and perhaps most bittersweet rite of passage in any Peace Corps Volunteer’s completion of service. My friend Heather misses cheap African beer. Janet, who served as a 1963 Volunteer in Senegal says she longs for the sounds nighttime drums and dancing. Janet’s husband John, who also served in Senegal, says he misses never having to deal with telephone calls. My friend Justin who is well into his first year in Ukraine says he’s sure he’ll miss the daily family meals.
     Before I started Peace Corps in 2001 and I heard returned Volunteers wax nostalgic about their countries of service, I thought they were out of their minds. I thought they’d really lost it, gone native, broken some sort of anthropological code about distance and emotional attachment. I was excited about getting to know my host culture, but I also secretly believed that I would never love that culture; I was so certain that I would return to the U.S. with nothing but open arms and a passionate respect for pasteurized dairy products. It wasn’t that I thought the U.S. was better than what I thought Honduras would be — it just didn’t seem possible that I would ever think of Honduras as my home.
     Yet here I am, exactly where an enormous part of me wanted to be on wet, lonely Honduran Sundays or long, sleepless, Honduran nights and I am simply filled up with memories of a far away place I couldn’t have imagined loving. I am stunned by my overwhelming love for a place I often hated. Suddenly there are smells, songs, articles of clothing I cannot physically bear because it’s like running across memorabilia from a past lover — that one great love that changes you forever.
  
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