Tuesday, December 2, 2014

This is your brain. This is your brain on Peace Corps.

I spent November being intentional in thinking about the things in my life that I'm grateful for. But if I'm being honest, it didn't require a whole lot of thought on my part. Each day, something would happen and I would record it in my draft for the weekly post. I never sat down and thought about it at length. 

I don't speak out loud very much. It's difficult when you don't speak the same language as your coworkers and the people you live with, but it's not impossible. It's not that I don't say anything, it's just that I don't say much. I never thought about fluency in a language being a luxury, but, oh, how it is. I can absolutely communicate basic thoughts and I'm not completely lost all the time with getting around and living my life here, but I'm not able to connect with anyone on more than a basic level. 

In a book review for The Other Language by Francesca Marciano (which I have not read), the reviewer says about the book: "Yet she discovers, first as an adolescent and then as an adult, that fluency in a language doesn't guarantee her yearnings will be heard, much less understood." True, but not altogether comforting.

With all of that and with the amount of time I spend alone (most of my time), I have a lot of time to think. But I don't use my time to think. Sure, I'm introspective and I question things and journal and I spend a lot of time in my own head. But I just spent this weekend with other PCVs and for the last few days, I haven't been able to stop thinking. 

It's hard to describe what's going through my head because I can't even pin it all down; it's so varied. But here I am trying.

I'm thinking about the future. What I want in life, what I don't want, what I hope to have eventually but not anytime soon. I'm thinking about the present. What I want to do, what I am doing, what life is like. I'm thinking about the past and how somehow, all the choices I made have led me to this moment and this adventure. I don't know if everything happens for a reason but I know some things do and I've got to be here for a reason. 

I'm thinking about my Peace Corps family. I'm thinking about how you can enjoy time with so many different kinds of people who have such different life experiences, and how they can turn your world upside down just by showing you a different point of view or by saying something to you that they didn't even know would have such an impact. Maybe they'll never know. 

I'm thinking about how you can meet someone "new" at every event, because every gathering of people is a slightly different mix. The perfect mix. A beautiful mix.
You can vaguely know who someone is, speak to them at length for the first time Friday, and pull an all-nighter with them Saturday only to fall asleep with them on the couch Sunday morning. 
You can pinky promise someone to be their best friend and not have any doubt that you both mean it. 
You can dance with someone and cook with someone and play cards with someone while someone else carves a turkey in the next room. 
You can plan events with people in all the languages you know (or try to know) and laugh about how ridiculous it all is instead of getting frustrated with how difficult it is.
You can have someone look into your eyes while they're talking to you and just feel that they're getting to you all the way down in your heart and soul. 
You can get lost with someone and not even care because you're with them whether you know where you are or not. 
You can have a conversation that starts with politics and elections and ends up with a link to a multilingual version of "Let it Go." 
You can find people who inspire you and people to look up to - people who might be younger or older than you, but that make you want to say, "I want to be her when I grow up." 
You can tell someone how you really feel and not worry that they will judge you or tell the whole country all your thoughts. 
You can count on someone to tell you the Packer score (we're ahead, hopefully) and someone else to be confused about why you're a Packer fan from Virginia. 
You can have a friendship that started day one with banana bread flavored beer that you'll never stop talking about. 
You can miss the people who have had to leave, and you will.
You can only hope that people are okay with the hugs you give that are probably too long for real life but that you want to prolong because of your lack of friendly human contact. 
You can fall in love with the people in your program, the people in your part of the country, the people you just want to fall in love with. 

I'm thinking about how I can look around at a room full of PCVs and feel like I'm at home with these people I didn't even know existed 6 months ago. I'm thinking about how 6 months ago we were literally strangers, and now I can't imagine life without them. There are some that I absolutely do not want to have to do life without, and I feel like I know who some of them are at just 6 months in. I feel like I knew who some of them were at 6 weeks, or 6 days. Is 6 hours pushing it? I'm thinking about how I have absolutely fallen in love with these people, and I can say without a doubt that they are the perfect people to be on this crazy journey with. It couldn't have happened any other way. 

I'm thinking about this quote from The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan: "It's not quite love, and it's not quite community; it's just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team." In other words, "the opposite of loneliness." This perfectly describes the way I feel about the people on my team, the people in my corner, the people I'm going to be spending the next 20 months with and the ones who, even when I am lonely, manage to talk to me from another part of the country and make me feel like maybe, just for a moment, I'm not. 

I'm thinking about how I may never stop thinking. I don't know what's going on in my head but it's something. I'm thinking about how I don't want to stop because maybe I'll figure out something I need to know, or something somebody else needs to know. 

I'm thinking about how crazy I am for being here. Yes, sometimes I want to get on the first flight back home, but with weekends like this one I just had and thoughts like the ones I've been having.. With all these things I think are true, I think I'll stick to feeling crazy for a while and see what I can do here, in this place, with these people. What am I doing? I don't know. But I'm thinking.. I'm thinking I'm gonna make it.

No comments:

Post a Comment