Sunday, April 25, 2010

17 Days...and counting

Well; it's almost May, so I guess it's time for an entry! Almost an entire YEAR has lapsed since I left Juticalpa, all of my students, a group of friends I hold nearest and dearest to my heart, amazing memories all crammed into one intense, challenging, and life-altering year; undoubtedly the best year of the 29 I've had on this earth. Arguably, it was also the most difficult. It was worth every single moment and event I experienced.

In 17 days, I will board a plane and go back to the place that became my second home for a nine day visit. I will spend a day teaching my students who are now almost third graders (and will probably be a foot taller than they were when I left them in June.) I'll join Wendy in the new kitchen making pupusas and baleadas. I'll eat more frijoles and plaintains than I can stomach (and then go back for seconds). I'll walk to the Esso station for a cappachino or a granita, and have to use a half a package of babywipes afterwards to clean my blackened feet. I'll hold baby Ana Valeria in my arms for the first time; and become a Honduran godmother. I'll eat tacos in the park, and drink water from a bag for 2 lempira. I can't believe I am saying this; but I am almost looking forward to being called "Mamacita" and getting hissed at by the local machismo riff-raff. Being the feminist woman that I am; it even shocks ME that I think I'll be able to laugh at it all now. Why, you ask? Well, it's all part of the memories!

I have to admit; I wish I were more excited about my upcoming visit. I don't want this entry to come off as me not looking forward to seeing my friends and spending time there-it's actually quite the opposite. I just thought that by now I would already be packing my suitcase, planning activities for my students, and plotting out how I'm going to take full advantage of every moment that I have back "home", but for some reason, I find myself more feeling anxious about the adventure that lies before me. I think my issue is that I am experiencing the same exact range of emotions I felt at this time last year when I was making the decision about whether or not to stay or to leave. Once I had made my decision; I remember how painful leaving, and preparing myself for my actual depature was. June 21st 2009 was easily one of the most difficult days of my life. I could even go so far as to say it was heart-wrenching. We all know I can be dramatic, but I don't think anything has ever been so difficult to do in my life. I left behind a place, a culture, and a group of people who took me in, loved me, and made me feel at home despite not being one of them. I left feeling that I actually belonged there and was a part of the community. I don't believe there are too many places in the world where I would feel that way as an outsider. I really do feel like everything that happens in life is meant to be, and I was sent there for a reason. I feel like it happened at exactly the right time in my life; being young enough to have the freedom to go abroad for a year and volunteer; but old enough that I had gotten my selfish party years out of my system and was fully dedicated to what I was doing. I also knew I couldn't stay forever; and the whole experience did exactly as it was supposed to in the time span I was planning on being there- it changed everything about me- my values, my beliefs, my view of the world outside of Boston. I knew that leaving was going to be difficult; but that it was time to close out one chapter of my life and start another. And so; I went.

I guess all I can say is that Juticalpa, Olancho Aid, Santa Clara, my students, my friends, and everything that encompassed that experience made me feel fulfilled, challenged, and inspired in a way I'd never felt before in my life. Although spending a year there was difficult; I felt like I had a real purpose for being there. In short; my life felt meaningful, and I felt like my being there had a real, positive impact on children's and people's lives. (Their's had an even bigger impact on mine; but we all know that from every one of my entries!) I felt like every day was a part of the experience- every situation was a page in my storybook and an important part of what I would take from my time there in the long haul; after returning to the States. Unfortunately; every fear and thought I had in my mind last year at this time as I prepared to come home has rung true. You can only talk about your stories so much. Most people will never understand- they didn't live out the experience that you did. It doesn't make them bad people, but it makes you feel very lonely at times, like no one understands something that is so important to you and defines you so much. I also don't think I'll ever feel that way again. I'd be lying if I said it didn't depress me at times. I am so grateful to have had that experience; but I wonder if I'll ever feel as inspired and fulfilled again. I feel the same exact way I felt before I left for Honduras- like something was missing. I am grateful for all of the love and support that I have in my life, and the things many people take for granted, but still; I seek greater challenges. I have eliminated a lot of the negativity from my life since my return and have tried to only focus on making positive changes in my life, but still; I feel uninspired. I don't know if the emptiness and boredom I feel is just a part of returning from a year abroad, due in part to the bad economy (I know lots of other people struggling with this feeling- it's not just me!), or something else - like a calling to build a career around charity work. (Anyone want to hire me as a fundraiser?! Seriously! If I am passionate about a cause; you all know how hard I will work!) All I know is I left my heart in Juticalpa, and I'm looking forward to feeling enveloped in all of that love, hope, and comfort- even if it's only for a short time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an awesome entry...You did good honey and you'll do good , again. Don't ever apologize for how you feel. A few of us do understand....
Love you.......L