There was a big volleyball tournament on Saturday morning at the local sports palace. It was scheduled for 10am but I figured that nothing here starts on time so an 11 o'clock arrival would suffice. I rolled in with a couple friends to watch the games, only to find the space all but empty. We hung out and chatted for about an hour, fielding wild gestures and unintelligible comments from the ancient Mongolian man sitting next to us, while people blearily filed into the gym. The tournament gained momentum and finally people were actually playing, rather viciously, too. Sitting there, joking with friends in the morning sun that streamed through the skylights and watching the volleyball game, I felt strangely normal. I wondered how many people around the world on that day would be sitting on bleachers somewhere, their hands wrapped around travel mugs just as mine where, cheering on their friends or family. It felt like such a natural thing to do. I sat there for a while just marinading in how predictable it all felt and how strange it was to feel completely comfortable, something that hasn't occurred in many months. This feeling took me by surprise and though it didn't last too long (shortly after, I went to the indoor market which always has bizarre and wonderful things for sale- discovery of the day: Asian pears- so amazing!) it's nice to know that it happened.
In other news of the normal, I had dinner at a Mongolian friend's house tonight. She is the most sophisticated woman I've met here thus far and we spent hours talking and laughing. She laid out an amazing spread of potato salad, rice with vegetables and cheese, a spiced meat stir fry, fruit and goldfish crackers with tea, juice and coffee on a low table. Three of us (another Peace Corps Volunteer was there, too) sat on the floor, soaking up the warmth from a heating pad under the rug. Over food and wine that spilled into coffee with Bailey's and chocolate we talked about everything from traveling to teaching and from boys to boob jobs. It was so nice to get to know a new friend on a real level, not just have awkward small talk (a thing that I do daily here). I feel like I have a real friend in this woman; she even called me 'sister'. Getting to know people isn't really anything crazy unusual back home but this is pretty exciting here because for me building relationships is the most special part of my job. I suppose making friends and having a wider circle of people to share life with is something that I consider to be normal. It is also something I haven't been able to do genuinely with many locals yet, so this is a wonderful step. Somehow my life is crawling towards steady after months of new and strange experiences.