"Here I am in my first week back after thirteen months with Manna and it's clear things have changed.
Take my brother's yappy beagle, with whom I cohabit when in the States. While I've been gone, she has matured, like a fine wine, into a less-annoyingly yappy state of being. Unlike this time last year, I now have an irresistible urge to put used toilet paper in bathroom trash cans. Of course there was never anything abnormal about spending the afternoon hunting for mushrooms in the woods, but when I got home today I cooked them. That wouldn't have happened a year ago. Meanwhile, no one anywhere in the house has screamed in the last hour. Strange.
But that's not all. Things in my own head, too, are not the same as before. Maybe I can't get past the fact that I just spent a year volunteering in a country with a higher rate of nose jobs than southern California. Or that I paid about as much to work for that year as Ecuadorians earn in the same amount of time ($7150 vs. $7500 according to the CIA World Factbook). Then again, maybe it's something else. Something about a unique time and a way of living gained and then lost. People, places, and experiences I know I won't forget. Something that can't be captured in a single blog entry. Or maybe that's just the parasites talking.
Whatever it is, after a year with Manna things have changed, and in a way I can't—and wouldn't—undo. Still, it's comforting to know that some things are exactly as I left them thirteen months ago.
I need a job.