Monday, May 30, 2005

Return from France

On my last morning in France, I took a walk. A group of people were already assembled in front of the analysis clinic, even before it opened at 7:30 a.m. When they pulled up the metal gate, the receptionist behind the desk ran around in navy cropped pants and 2-3 inch heeled sandals. Another employee, a woman with long, thick, dark hair, pulled up on a motorcycle, parked it on the sidewalk against a wall, walked in while pulling off her helmet, then returned wearing a white lab coat.

On the beach, three muscular men and a young boy played petanque against the pale morning colors of the sea and sky. They wore small, tight swimsuits and jumped and laughed with excitement.

I flew back on Aeroflot, the flight from Moscow being frightening enough that my colleague Judith and I held hands and a Russian man needed oxygen brought to him.

Bishkek was clean, bright, orderly and green. It’s an attractive city and I was impressed by the number of events, movies and concerts I saw advertised, by the beautiful floral bouquets old woman sold on the street, and by the jars filled with glistening strawberries and cherries for sale.

When our driver picked me up from the Osh airport, I told him I was glad to be home. In fact, while I enjoyed the views in France, even there I felt I would have preferred to have been in Osh. I feel a special attachment to the city and its people and I feel this connection in my heart.

That made it all the worse to receive a phone call several hours later saying that I’ll soon have to move to Bishkek. I’ll be there at least three months and home after that is uncertain. I wanted to cry at the thought of leaving Osh, especially under such short notice, and my family felt the same. Nigora did cry. Not only is it a loss of an expected regular source of income for them, but even more importantly, we’ve grown used to each other and we care about each other. I don’t want to leave them and they don’t want me to go.

I think about all the local places I haven’t seen yet. One of my colleagues just recently ran up the Souleymane mountain, the same day he arrived in Osh. “I’ve learned that in this work I have to see or do things right away if I don’t want to miss the opportunity,” he said. He was right. I put several things off, waiting for my relatives or friends to visit, expecting I’d be here for a while and wanting to share the experience of exploration. I should have just gone and seen what I could while I had the chance. Now I know.

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