We took a Big Plane on the trans-Pacific flight. The usual international flight with two seats, an aisle, five seats, an aisle and two more seats. The planes are so big, they break them up into sections about 20 rows deep. In the section of the plane we were in, there were more people than in the village of Vansemakul. In the entire plane, I estimate there was at least half the population of the district.
Population density is different here. It is overwhelming.
I’ve gotten used to long, quiet days where I talk to two or maybe three people throughout the day. I’ve gotten used to silent evenings alone with my book or my writing while Jason drinks kava in the nakamal. I’ve gotten used to silent days when Jason is at a training in Vila and the rain is pouring down so I can’t be bothered to leave my house and I don’t speak to anything that can talk back for the entire day. That wasn’t every day, but it was often enough that my brain had room to stretch and fill the silence.
I am not used to crowds. I’m not used to being jostled by people. I’m not used to needing to be constantly aware of people, or having their personalities pressing against me. My tolerance has gone down. A lot.
Being in a room of five people is fine. In fact, it is kind of fun. There are people to talk to and things to do. Being in a room of ten people is less fun. I have trouble parsing out which is the conversation I’m having and which is the conversation someone else is having. I get lost and loose my train of thought because there is too much English happening around me.
I’ve never had a high tolerance for crowds. It got lower. I’m getting better about it just being home. And I’ve discovered that beer helps. I get a bit less of the sandpaper on my psyche feeling when I’ve had a drink or two. Unfortunately, my alcohol tolerance has gone down at the same time, so I can only have one or two.