1. No Alone Space
As a 97-100% “I” on the Myers Briggs, I really, really, really need to be alone sometimes to recharge and gather energy between periods of social interaction. I like people; it’s not that I don’t want to spend time with them. But in order to have energy to do so, I HAVE to get some quiet time by myself. Here, I have no such luxury. Ever. I live in an apartment with all of the inn’s temporary volunteers. This population is constantly in flux; volunteers arrive on any given Tuesday and stay for usually about 6 weeks. We don’t have our own rooms; we have beds kind of scattered in different open spaces in the apartment. I have a little more privacy than most; my bed is not next to anyone else’s. But to get from the entrance of the house to the kitchen or bathroom, you have to walk through the hallway that contains my bed. I’ve enjoyed getting to know a variety of different volunteers from around the world; but knowing that at any moment, they can walk through my “room” destroys any sense of privacy/aloneness. Even when I’m the only person at home, I don’t feel completely relaxed and alone because I am aware of that possibility. It’s become a little exhausting.
2. Listening to People with whom I Fundamentally Disagree and Struggling to Maintain a Smile
I can’t even begin to tell you how many Islamaphobic, Arab-hating tourists I interact with on a daily basis. Comments like, “We love Israel, but we don’t like being in Nazareth. There’s too many Arabs,” and “We’ve read the Qur’an. We know that even if they smile to your face, they all really want to kill us,” drive me absolutely insane. ESPECIALLY because they usually come from the mouths of those belonging to a demographic similar to my own: conservative, white, evangelical Americans. And when these travelers meet me and learn that my background may be similar to theirs, they try to engage me in these conversations. And it’s all I can do to bite my tongue and remain completely silent. It’s not professional to argue with customers; and if they’re Jesus Trail hikers, I have to spend at least six consecutive hours with these people. Which could be miserable if I start out by challenging their world view. But it’s really, really hard.
On the bright side, I’m growing more and more in the discipline of patience??
3. Hot Weather and Modest Dress
It’s still as hot as 80 degrees here most days. Which is an improvement over the 85-90 that we were suffering until recently. But women (especially blond women) who go out into the town wearing anything that doesn’t cover at the very least their shoulders and knees get far too much attention. So I sweat. And pray for cooler weather.