Beyond Accustomed

Today is Sunday. The day of relaxation, and also the time to finish up weekend chores. Yesterday I chopped wood and coal for two hours to stock up my supplies for the upcoming week. Today is reserved for sleeping in late, buying water and cleaning my ger, body and hair.

To get water I must first empty out my two containers by filling up my dry sink basin and water boiler to their limits. Then I scrounge up sixty tugriks (the equivalent of thirty cents) and put it into the front left pocket of my plaid work-coat. The water wheelbarrow sits in front of my family’s house so I walk along my khashaa path, take a hold of the frozen handle and drag it towards my ger. I set the handle down, grab my two containers, and place them strategically onto the wheelbarrow. The 40 liter metal one must sit in the back, allowing the yellow 20 liter plastic container upfront so that when full the wheelbarrow does not tip over.

I leave my yard, and begin my journey towards the well. It is an attractive day, with a comfortable temperature hovering just over twenty and no smog in sight. I trundle along, pushing the wheelbarrow over areas of compact snow and a few thin sheets of ice. Cows pass me, discreetly observing my walk while creating small puffs of smoke with each exhale of breath. I’m happy to be outside, enjoying my Sunday. It is neither special nor unusual, composed of routines that appeal in their simplicity.

This life I have made in Mongolia no longer feels like a bizarre two year stint in the middle of nowhere. It has become my reality. I have transcended the feeling of novelty, landing in a new found state of normalcy. It is not only that I have lived this experience long enough to become accustomed; it is that anything else seems odd.  Imagining friends and loved ones living their daily life on the opposite side of the globe, with no real knowledge of what I am experiencing, does not sit right. For if this life feels so ordinary, so commonplace, how can there be those that cannot even fathom it?

Exactly seventeen months ago I delved into a new adventure. I settled into a foreign culture to experience the world with a new perspective. And apparently it takes exactly that long for the sensation of “an experience” to dissolve, solidifying into a different sensation- that of a normal life.

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