15 months it has been.
15 months since I pressed submit.
15 months since I applied.
Over the past 15 months, not an hour has gone by where Peace Corps hasn’t crossed my mind. In these past 15 months, I’ve experienced tears of joy, tears of loss, and tears of confusion. I was assigned to the country of my dreams, then just weeks before my departure date, I was reassigned to a place where I never really pictured myself. Of course I was devastated by such an abrupt reassignment, but now that I’ve had time to ponder my situation, I really can’t imagine going anywhere else. I was comfortable with South America–perhaps too comfortable. I understand Spanish; I understand Catholicism; I believe that I at least sort of understand Ecuador.
However, I don’t understand Morocco.
I don’t completely understand North African or Middle Eastern culture; I don’t entirely understand Islam; I have essentially zero understanding of the Arabic language (Ummm… Salam?). On this day, I’m relatively naïve about the world and about the Peace Corps.
But I’m telling myself it’s ok.
It’s ok to be fearful; it’s ok to be intimidated; it’s ok to be enthusiastic. It’s just… Ok. I’m sitting on this airplane, petrified by the knowledge that these next 27 months are completely my own. I honestly hadn’t grasped this concept until right this instant, on this plane, while sandwiched between two snoring old men. Saying goodbye to my friends and family was the hardest moment of my life thus far, and now it’s just… Me.
I feel like these goodbye posts are inherently cliche, so I’ll try to keep it short. I just left Idaho; I’m actually still in the United States for another three days. I’m no wiser, smarter, or more worldly than I was when I hugged my favorite people goodbye through obnoxious sobs earlier this morning. Yet, this is a tremendously special post to me. I’ve written more than twenty blog posts already, but this is THE POST; the time on my 27-month clock starts now.
My emotions are running amuck, but this will inevitably be one of the experiences I use to define myself and the life I’ve led. Anthony Bourdain, one of my many spirit animals, once said:
“If you’re 22, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.”
Hey, Anthony: I’m 22. I’m reasonably fit. I can sleep on a floor. I like food. IS THIS MY DESTINY?
Ridiculousness aside, I’ve had a great 22 years in my star-spangled homeland, but it’s time for something new. See you in 27 months, ‘Murica. You’ve been good to me.