Sunday, August 31, 2008

Don't Y'all Worry

So I got a note of concern from a couple of people regarding my last entry. Please, allow me to reaffirm that I am just fine.
Serving here in South Africa is hard, but that's what I signed up for.

I know that I've reflected a bit on this previously, but I have an incredible amount of privilege.
One of the weightier aspects of privilege that tends to dominate my thoughts is the fact that I can leave whenever I want to.
If at any point I want to go home, I can just call Peace Corps. Once they get the call, they will come pick me up, and I can be out of the country in a matter of days.

That simple fact alone sets me apart from those in my village. It's something I have acknowledged from the beginning- but the longer I stay, the more I realize how pervasive that factor is in my life here.
And while it is sometimes hard to accept that I am presented with this advantage simply on account of the circumstances I was born into- I am presented with an opportunity to make a choice. Every day.
Every day that I wake up and remain here- it is my choice. Though sometimes it is not always obvious why it is the case- ultimately, I want to be here.

Okay, I hope that put some people at ease.
Love you all! Over and out.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Isolation

Let me tell you a little story about last night.
Last night was a rough night.
While serving in Peace Corps often leads to a profound sense of belonging and a sense of solidarity with humanity, it just as often leads to feelings of intense isolation. At least, that has been the case for me.

For various reasons, I have lately felt very ... alone in life. But this is nothing new.
Throughout my adolescence and most of my adult life, I've carried with me a profound sense of being alone. (Yes, even despite my incredible family and friends.)
I wont get into any existential ramblings here. But I will just say that I knew that this was something that I would have to confront even further in my Peace Corps service, and that it was a very big factor in why I joined.
I wanted to explore my sense of isolation further, because even though it can be difficult and painful- acknowledging that I'm alone in this life has, in a way, provided me with tremendous inner strength.

That being said, I knew it would be hard. But knowing ahead of time that something will be hard ... well, it doesn't make it any easier, now does it?



Anyway, like I said, last night was rough.
I was in bed, quite sad.

As I was laying there and thinking to myself something along the lines of "oh woe is me, life is so hard, buuuhuuuhuuuu," the map above my bed slowly started to fall off of the wall.
It slid down and landed squarely on my back.
The symbolism was just too much for me, and, not bothering to move myself or the map, I burst into a fit of laughter.
It was a tipping point. I laid like that for about ten minutes, just soaking it all in.

I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, and all this time, all I had to do was stick it back on the wall.

(Because it was just a map. Maps aren't that heavy.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On the Road Again

I'm sitting here at my computer, stalling. I need to wash my clothes before I hit the road tomorrow.

Normally, I hire a woman from the village to do my laundry (that's right, I'm soooo bourgeoisie), but it's short notice, and I don't have a lot of clothes to do. Plus, it's mostly underwear that needs washing and it is BAD MANNERS to get someone else to wash your skivvies. I'm okay with this, because, well, I mean, just ... it's kinda personal anyway, you know?

I'll be going to the training of the new volunteers. They've come in just about three weeks or so ago.

I'm looking forward to meeting the new group. There's obviously something about the nature of Peace Corps that draws a generally respectable crowd. It'll also be interesting to relive, through them, the anxieties and challenges that we all faced at the start.

I remember meeting PCVs from the previous groups that came into our own training. It was encouraging, because most of them gave the impression of being comfortable, confident and solid in their service. It gave me hope that I could be there one day as well.


I like to think that I've adjusted well to my life here.
I FEEL adjusted.
I don't really know how else to measure adjustment, though. I mean, I eat liver and onions now, for crying out loud.
I don't even veer away from the donkeys when I walk past them. (They're like part of the landscape. A very loud, ridiculous part of the landscape.)
I can tell you everything that is going on in Generations (the favorite South African soapie).
And perhaps most impressively, I can squash a random man's marriage proposal, in Setswana, in under 10 seconds flat- sometimes I can even crack jokes and get them to laugh while I'm doing it.

I guess even if I don't fix the world, at least I'm having a good time trying.