While I was walking around the market today with some new friends (can I call them friends yet? I dunno - I am uncomfortable calling a relationship so one-sided 'friendship') I was marveling at how malleable, how adaptable people are. I mean, this 'thing' I am on isn't that crazy of a change as say, moving to Zimbabwe or something, but it illustrates my point anyway. At first glance, people are very stuck in their ways. They like their coffee with two sugars, skim milk, extra hot, with a shot of espresso. They just cannot sleep on anything less than 800ct sheets, and heaven forbid if their cellphone drops service.
In reality, people don't need all of this. Don't look at me like that. I understood this principle before coming to Russia, but it is so much easier to see what you can give up in life from this side of the world. In the US, people complain about the roads being pitted, or a bathroom without toilet paper, or the fact that their house isn't being regulated at 71.5 degrees, as they would like. When that same person is thrown into a situation where things are much different....they can just change. Of course, the choices are change and accept or be miserable and die. We can accept having so much less than we expect. Not only can you accept it, you can get used to it - it becomes your baseline, your norm. Already, I am getting used to not understanding anything I see or hear, I am starting to fill out my 'foreigner' mold and give up on trying to not act stupid in situations where I just can't help it. I will eat anything anyone gives me, because it's food, and I accept that I need it - regardless of what 'it' is. And, bathrooms stink by nature, rarely have toilet paper or soap. But you gotta pee.
This paints a perfectly clear picture of what is important in life. Some things are given up with just a wince and acceptance, some others feel like someone is cutting my pinky off with a dull, rusty blade. I didn't grip my pillow and cry at night because I couldn't have a single deluxe cheeseburger from Culvers (but, oh my does that sound good...) or because my sheets were scratchy or because there are no street signs anywhere in the city. Leaving my friends and family (and other people who don't neatly fall into either category, but deserve their own) racked me with grief. It's the people, the relationships, the memories that matter.
It's because I have been reassured to the nth degree that these will all still be there when I return that I can push past that hole in my heart and face those other adaptations. Love can travel over any distance and powerfully change people, and for that, I am eternally grateful.