"Are you homesick yet?"
Yes... And no.
People keep asking me this. I have been in Kyle, South Dakota a little over three months. To my dad that translates as I've only been here five minutes. I'm willing to agree. I mean it hasn't even been six months yet. But am I homesick?
I miss everyone back in Dallas. Especially my parents. My dad's not a hugger but I'd like to have a hug from him right now. And a hug from my mother who became more of a hugger once she saw her daughter wasn't the type to sit around and in fact made the choice to be "out in the streets" as she puts it. I see all the photos posted up on my social media networks of everything I'm missing. It tugs a little but I am inspired by what I'm doing. And what I'm doing is stepping out of a ton of comfort zones, previous ideology and seeing a point of view I would have never had the chance to if I stayed home. It's not easy, obviously. More than one resident here has asked if I've reached "culture shock." I guess I have but not just because it truly IS another culture but mostly because I'm from "the outside." You know. Not from the Rez.
Also, there are a little over 1,000 black folks in Rapid City, South Dakota -- the nearest "metropolitan" area with a population around 68,000 or more. So yea, I'd say I'm one of maybe a handful of black folks on the reservation. But it doesn't matter if you are black or otherwise -- people just know you aren't from here anyway, regardless. The thing is you just stand out a little more when you are a tall, black lady with an occasional afro! Sometimes when folks stare I come close to throwing down some lackluster humorous distraction like asking, "What? Is there broccoli in my teeth?"
But also the culture shock has something to do with location. Things are .... FAR. And it has to do with what often happens here that I've never regularly experienced -- one of which is suicide. I'm not going to be one of those people elaborating on that topic. I'm not going to go into the usual roads folks go down with the reasons why -- it's not my place. But I will say this: I have had friends where I'm from end their lives but here it's nearly a weekly tragedy. And usually it's a beautiful young person who everyone seemed to love dearly.
I find that the landscape, especially on a warm day which isn't often right now, to be a comfort. Many have told me this is "God's country" and "there's no better place to be." The missing cityscape is OK in my book. And any given morning on my way to work I may encounter a bevy of horses crossing the road.
It can get lonely when you are a new person -- even when you have kind people who will invite you along and accept you. But I don't miss Dallas one bit. I'm not homesick for the traffic, the pretentiousness I often found when not looking and the noise. But I am homesick for a little bit of the love.