23 June 2011

The last five years...

Today, despite the fact that I have strep for the first time that I can remember – seriously, Mom, when was the last time I had this? I know I’ve convinced myself I had it even when it was a virus, but still…  – I went to our school’s ‘goodbye’ ceremony for all of the 11th formers. It was basically their graduation ceremony, where everyone receives their marks from their exams and gets flowers and they thank teachers and take tons of photos. I obviously sat in the front row, was a spectacle just ‘cause I’m American, and didn’t understand A WORD of what was said. To anyone. About anything. Next year’s ceremony’s gonna be interesting…

Oh, I should also mention that like a blundering American (or maybe just me – I don’t want to generalize/stereotype Americans too harshly), I completely janked up the dress code. Because of my two-day invalid-ism thanks to the grip – that’s read: flu – and then strep (yeah, it’s been a great week), I had no idea it was a formal/dress-up occasion. So, what did I wear? Yeah, that would be a John Mayer tour t-shirt, jeans, flip-flops, and my Hawks baseball hat. I didn’t stick out or anything at ALL. *facepalm*

While sitting through it, and watching my host-nephew get all of his stuff and my apa beaming with pride as he did so, I was seriously overcome with emotion. I don’t know why, maybe it’s ‘cause I am feeling so crappy, or I miss all of my friends and family back in the States, or if it’s ‘cause I miss that feeling of accomplishment from my own high school graduation. Honestly couldn’t tell you. There were numerous times when I had to swallow (which, trust me, hurt like a BITCH) back my tears and try to keep myself composed.

It’s been five years since my own high school graduation. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but at the same time it feels like it’s been AGES since I was at that place. Both mentally and physically. Sure I’ve been back to visit a teacher or two since then, but to really be there? It’s obviously been five years. But there are so many memories, both good and bad, that are still so vivid in my head. Mr Williams – ew. Play Pro auditions. Jumping into my friend’s arms as he arrived mid-show because things were going terribly. Holding the hands of my best girlfriends’ hands after our first show of Steel Magnolias and coming out into the hallway to thunderous applause. [I bet no one can guess what kind of nerd I was in high school…]

The whole concept of time truly baffles me. In that five years, so fucking much as happened to me. Moving to Chicago. Starting and then finishing college. Getting my first taste of traveling abroad – living for a year in Scotland. Going to, working in, (and falling in love with) Africa. Getting into and actually doing the Peace Corps. Meeting fucking amazing people along the way. I’d like to think I’ve become a better person since then. At least someone who’s a little more sure of herself, knows a little bit better about what she’d like to do with her life, or at least just a little more fucking sensible with the choices she makes and things she does.

But who the hell really knows?

And yet there are moments, even now, when I still feel like that 18 year-old girl in high school. I DON’T know what I want to do with my life; that’s why I’m attempting to do this Peace Corps thing. Do I want to head back to my beautiful Jambiani and work there again? Or continue traveling while I’m still relatively young and don’t have anything tying me down? Or do I want to head back to school – get a Masters from some swanky school (maybe abroad?)? Or do I want to just settle down some place and find a job? Coming out of this at 25 I feel partly that I’ll have the world at my feet to do whatever, but there’s still that damn societal pressure to be doing and making something of yourself at that age…

I DON’T know where exactly I belong. I know I belong somewhere – everyone has to have a home, right? But where is that home? Back in Nebraska? Chicago? New York? Washington DC? Africa? Scotland? New Zealand? Kyrgyzstan? Or somewhere else entirely unexplored (for me at least) yet? It all frustrates and terrifies the shit out of me, but at the same time acts as one of the few surprises I have left in my life. It’s like when one of my best friends told me that she refused to find out the gender of her baby and out of frustration (‘cause let’s be honest, HOW DO YOU BUY NON-GENDERED BABY ITEMS?!) I asked her why, she told me just that: it was one of the only real surprises she had left and she wasn’t going to spoil it.

I think that what this nonsensical, drug-addled entry is trying to communicate is that my brain obviously thinks too much about the past and the future, but never the present. I think that’s one of the things that I need to work most on while I’m over here. It’s been a rough week (wow, it seriously feels like so much longer than that) since Mel left. Lots of things going through my head. Trying to work it all out in ‘safe’ places so I don’t drive my friend David (who’s become my new shoulder) absolutely crazy, only a month into my service.

Sorry for this one, guys. It was meant to be a bit more uplifting and philosophical or whatever the hell you want to call it, but obviously turned out a bit differently. Haha. Know that I love you all and am missing you like crazy. Haven’t received any mail or packages yet, but since I am out in the boonies, I’m just chalking it up to a slow taxi or something happened in the mountains and it’ll get here eventually. Gotta maintain that optimism, right?

John, Chanelle, guys, I am seriously GUTTED I cannot be with you all this weekend. Know that I am thinking about you and loving you from here, ok? I’m sure my mom will convey as much when she sees you, but just want you to hear/read it from me, too. Congratulations to you both. So excited for you. Wishing you the best fucking luck on the planet. All my love to you guys.

And to everyone else.

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