This morning the sun was shining. There were birds chirping and pecking at uncovered earth. I took a bath.
I almost went home this week. Home. Where my family lives. Where I get to go to my little sister’s softball games. Where I go on long walks with my older sister. Where my parents and I stay up for long talks in the kitchen. Where Survivor provides an excuse for us all to sit around and eat tostadas and gossip. Where they are BUILDING A SONIC AT THE END OF MY STREET.
The whirling of emotions I have felt over the last few days has been unwieldy, terrifying, humbling, revealing. I’ve been harboring these flighty feelings for so long that I let myself sink into them finally, let myself actually enter the mental processes of going home. Over the course of the weekend, I actually imagined conversations and phone calls I’d have to make. I planned for the swift departure that happens right after you tell the Peace Corps office that you’re ready to call it quits. I started to divvy up my hoard of books, planned who I’d give them to. I divided my things, decided the people I’d leave them with. I imagined dropping a coveted hat in the covetor’s mailbox at the Peace Corps office. I imagined dancing with friends, imagined the moment we’d look at each others’ faces, imagined how we’d start to cry in the midst of bass thuds and synth riffs.
I went as far as looking for jobs. I collect job announcements for refugee organizations in my web browser’s bookmarks folder. I made a mental timeline for working and applying to grad schools. I imagined running through the neighborhood back home on morning jogs, imagined visiting Abilene and my favorite burrito places. I imagined breaking down with the monumental tidal wave that seems to have carried me in the last two years, crying into the cushions of the big green couch in the living room.
I called my friend, told her I was going home. She was sad but recognized that inertia is not enough. She’s right, this intertia, this ‘Peace Corps Experience’, is not enough for me to keep floating along a lazy river. And let’s be sure, it would be a really easy way to spend two years. Lonely, but Peace Corps is an easy way to put off loans and live on American taxes for the next two years with little responsibility. I could float. But I miss home too much to float through something 7,000 miles away from them.
“I am going home.” I said it outloud. I said it many many times outloud just to hear the sound of it as it swirled out into the air. “I am going home.”
And then these things happened:
-I visited the office and saw some of my Armenian coworkers (I think I can call them friends now).
-I talked to my mother who said I needed to find my “little piece of heaven” no matter where I am.
-I tossed and turned and tossed and turned in bed.
-I recognized my fear of being a disappointment to family, friends, myself.
-I realized that I really want to be in Stepanavan for the first spring rain.
Fixed on the image of a spring rain, I fell fast asleep. I woke up in the morning topsy-turvy again but was immediately fixed on the cat-turd Sanity had left on my floor. I had been neglecting the cat dirt for a few days thinking that soon I would be going home. But I can’t neglect an actual turd on my actual floor, so I went outside to dig in the snow for new dirt. And I looked at the layers of white and dark brown. I looked at the patient sunflower stalks waiting for the year to start again. Back inside I stood at the window and looked along the stone wall towards the mountain and realized that I wasn’t ready to give up yet.
I’m not ready to give up on people here. I’m not ready to give up on the ideas that my Armenian counterpart and I have had. I’m not ready to give up my little cottage and nardi games with my landlord. I’m not ready to give up my kitten. But mostly, I’m not ready to give up on this dream I’ve had for my life, the one that has carried me through Mexican dustbowls, Abilene tent-villages, Indian slums and Armenian domiks. There’s a part of me that I’m not ready to give up on. And going home right now would mean that I let it go
So, here I am. Not getting on a plane anytime soon. Apologizing to my friends and family members who listened to my internal drama spill out all over the place. Working hard again on projects. Things continue on much the same as they have been. But inside, it’s like I’m in a new country.