or at least on my subconscious!

Around the time that I left Afghanistan, several of my close friends were also leaving (either because their contract was coming to an end or, like me, the funding for their project was suddenly cut). At the time, it gave us a certain shared experience of leaving within days of each other. But each of us had our own lives and our own circumstances to determine what we would be doing next. My friends ended up all over the world when leaving Kabul.

Since then, rather surprisingly to me, almost all of them have returned or were seriously considering returning to Afghanistan.

Like I said, they have their reasons for returning, but each time I learn of a friend going back, I end up spending some time thinking about whether I would go back. I already met the goals I set for myself in going there last year. Further, the security situation has clearly worsened (as it always does in the summer months), the financial situation has grown tighter, and I have already seen what a tiny impact our projects are having. [Clearly, I don’t write to be politically correct.]

I always come to the conclusion that 1) I have already had that experience, 2) It’s important to focus on my personal relationships and things at home right now, and 3) I’d rather go somewhere else if the opportunity presents itself.

I feel comfortable with this decision. And right now I have a ton of other things related to moving to California on my mind. But while in the middle of moving, almost every night I have a dream about returning to Afghanistan. I haven’t had a dream, that I remember, having anything to do with California. I’m sure that it’s a lot easier for the brain to create stories around the known than around the unknown, but it’s a strange way to wake up.

Yesterday, I got an email from my old translator in Kabul. He has moved to a different position, and the office of guys where the greatest amount of cultural exchange happened for me is no longer anything like when I was there. It’s rather bittersweet that the best parts of my experience no longer exist. (Too bad I can’t tell my subconscious that Afghanistan would indeed hold plenty of unknowns, too.)