From the moment I started talking about Peace Corps, I’ve been answering the question, “Why?” Friends and family want to know, I suppose, whether your reasoning is rational or crazy. I would say it is a bit of both, but the point is that from the start of it you build a defense, a well-formed explaination as to why this is good for me. And as the departure date approaches, everyone begins to express his or her apprehension about the upcoming two-year separation. And I, being my overly anxious self, spent a lot of time comforting my friends and family, letting them know that it would be OK, just a few short years.
Between the hustle and bustle of last goodbyes, packing, and wrapping up loose ends here and there, I became a robot; just taking the next steps, afraid that if I thought too much my courage would fall apart. I put on a brave face and stepped on a plane where I promptly fell asleep from exhaustion. And after that I was swept up into training, adjusting, host families, moving, learning new languages, meeting new people, projects, and the like. Three months later, my heart is finally catching up with me. It’s like it hits you all of a sudden… I just left my family, my friends, my home, my car, and everything that I know. “I just did something crazy!” as our Country Director put it so beautifully.
While Peace Corps may be an adventure, something fun, and maybe even a career boost, it is also a sacrifice. Two years, well it’s not a terribly long time, but you can miss a lot in two years. In two years people move, get married, have children, make new friends, get new jobs, travel… the list goes on. True, I will be making new friends here and my life will be joyful and full here… but I will lose something at home. Things will be different when I return. I may miss out on time spent with loved ones. Friendships may fall by the wayside.
I don’t think I truly allowed myself to let go of home until this past week. I was just having a homesick day. I was missing family, school friends, river friends, camp friends… all the different facets of my life, and I just broke down and cried till I fell asleep. It wasn’t necessarily a sad, “poor-me” cry or an “O-my-gosh-I’m-not-gonna-make-it” cry. I had just pushed my feelings to the back burner while I dealt with everything else… and I needed to feel it, to let go, in order to move on.