There are an awful lot of ways that I stand out in Cameroon. I surely couldn’t list them all here. After all, this website only has the ability to host so much data and I could type until my little fingers gave out.
For starters, I practically glow in the dark. I talk funny, I dress weird, I eat gross stuff, and I almost never sport a weave. I’m a walking talking freak show here, and while the stares constantly bug me, I get it.
I’ve tried to foster good habits while here. Improve or tweak little bumps and cracks in my personality that I’ve always been meaning to get around to. Smooth over some rough edges and walk away from here a new and improved Georgia, version 2.0. My personality clashes so badly with this country that I’ve had plenty of chances to quell my need for punctuality, my temper, my picky eating and a whole mess of other Georgia-ism that have come to define the less wonderful parts of me.
In one way, however, Cameroon has done nothing but encourage a less desirable trait.
Cameroonians are obsessed with things, and so am I.
Maybe obsessed isn’t the right word. That makes me sound like I’m touched in the head. I just… get stuck on things.
In college especially I picked up the penchant for eating the same food for days or weeks. I’d get a craving for chili, or salad, or tacos, or spaghetti or any other food that didn’t take an insane amount of time to make and my poor brain wouldn’t let up until I’d had it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner multiple times. My record is a caprese salad every day for two weeks straight.
Most of my life I’ve gotten stuck on words. I’ve heard a word I love and over and over again in my mind, that word gets tossed about. ‘Crepuscular’ was a favorite for a very long time.
Songs got put into heavy rotation, and by heavy rotation, I mean played on repeat over and over until I’ve got every line memorized.
List were made, people were obsessed over, worries were fretted, plans were rehearsed and television series were consumed in weeks. Movies were known backwards and forwards, topics was googled until I was an expert, and doodles were the same image, over and over and over. My constantly humming brain wasn’t my favorite part of myself, but it was a very real part and helped to form a lot of who I am.
Now I’m here and I’ve found a group of people who play Chop My Money multiple times a day for over a year now. My iPod constantly blaring the same tune now seems like good integration.
I had puff puff and beans every day for months. I’ve had shawarma at least once or twice a week for most of the time I’ve been in the North West. People here eat the same thing every day for months, if not decades. To them, I’m merely adapting to the culture.
I’ve been gifted with three languages with which to play
Words-of-the-Day/Week/Year. I’ve got all the time in the world to fret, make lists, think of people, solve imaginary problems, or doodle 500 stars on a piece of paper for an hour. If I want to read my Primate Phylogeny textbook for fun, I can, and over and over again. ‘100 books in a year ‘now seems like a product of boredom rather than a weird urge to consume information. All of 30 Rock? Twice? Sounds about right.
So, Cameroon, I appreciate you making the freakier parts of me normal responses. Though my ‘getting stuck’ has helped me be a better friend, do well in academics, have an excellent memory, sport a fact for every occasion, and improved my art, it’s also been a nagging flaw that sometimes is more of a hindrance than a help.
But here, in Peace Corps? It’s what we all do here, and now I’m just a smidgen less weird, thank god.