The greatest lesson Nigeriens gave me was that there is only one truly important thing in life (below God, of course): friends and family. I suppose that is a given for all of us, but in Africa, there no cheesy reminders that you can stick to your wall and it doesn’t take a traumatic event to reenforce. It’s part of life. You are present with those that matter all day, every day.
When I came back to the U.S. I made a conscious effort to be more frugal with my time, give it to only those that matter. That is part of the reason, knowing I would leave again, that I chose to be in Pierre and live with my parents. I could have moved to Sioux Falls, but I didn’t. I did visit often, and when I did, I only planned lunches and coffees with those that mattered to me, those that never lacked in their friendship duties.
Friendships do realign when you transport your life to another world. Some can’t understand or don’t want to. Living in a third world country, your priorities change and it can be hard to relate to those at home and some friendships die, or at the least lessen in signifiance.
Others, though, thrive. It’s cliché but only the real friendships stand up against that kind of time and change. And, when the dust settled after the evacuation, there were some pretty amazing people standing by my side as they always had been.
The final leg of my vacation brought me to Sioux Falls for more giggles with incredible people. They made me cake, helped me indulge in my favorite foods and gave me another good memory. There wasn’t a lot of people and some good friends couldn’t make it, but it was the perfect combination. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to figure out why I am so luck to have great friends.
As one jokingly pointed out, I have more goodbye parties than birthdays. I am OK with that.