Thursday, November 29, 2012

Since I left you

It really is amazing to me the change since I first got here. I remember the first morning I went out to the front yard of the retreat center just after dawn and just listened to the sounds, smelt the air, tried to figure out the trees...
The first six months I or so I had this persistent sense of wonder at just about everything I saw here. After I moved into my house and started to have more time to myself and to get into my homey habits this began to wear off. The breakup with Johanna, the receipt of a computer for my 25th birthday (a wonderful gift from my father), doldrums of my first summer in Paraguay started to blunt that sense further. I was reverting to my old self in some ways, which was satisfying also, because I found that I still mostly liked who I had been.

I fell in love with the campo life. I fell in love with the ease of mind, the casual beauty of daily life, the sense of disconnect from the rest of the world. I fell in love with Claudia, too.
In the crazy heat of the summer I made the mistake of acting on a feeling, began a romance with her and consequently had to leave behind the place and people I'd come to love.
I continue to count Claudia as one of my closest friends, but the relationship wasn't able to stand up the distances and lack of a future which my relocation to Natalio imposed.

I came to my new site demoralized, angry, confused. I've yet to really pull myself up out of this hole. I've made a lot of progress. It comes and goes. The worst thing is a closed off-ness in my soul which colors everything I think and feel about this second year of Peace Corps service.
I'm really trying to open back up. When I think about what things were like before and why they're different now I need to appreciate that the most important thing is in me, not in the circumstances. And that I can change it.
I wanted to be a Peace Corps volunteer for long time. People always told me that I would be a great Peace Corps volunteer. It felt a little like my whole life was leading up to it.
It is a habit of mind, it is luck, it is determination to get out the door and give things another shot. Today was a good day for me. Paraguay in general had a bad day, with intense rains and flooding in several parts of the country. Many homes destroyed, a few deaths.
But I met a couple of interesting people at the radio station, had a good on-air chat with the host Yanina about the summer at the library, worked in my garden and yard, cleaned and sharpened my tools. I planted the rosemary plant and a mysterious tropical shrub that I bought on Tuesday, when I decided that I will be staying in this house. I love and have missed the smell of fresh rosemary.

It is really something being gone for so long. I have thought maybe it was a mistake not to try and visit home after the site change or to ET (early terminate) and cut my losses. That would have felt like a mistake also. I am haunted by hypotheticals; it is best to stare them down and see my choices through.
And I marvel at how new and weird everything which now feels humdrum used to be. I think I will have been glad to have forced myself to experience being away so long and to know what that feels like. What is significant about it is how far back the chain of remembered feelings I have to go to get to that morning I left mom's house with a fever and her car bit the dust on our way to the airport at 4 in the January morning.

my fb status update for today:

1. It hardly rained at all here in Natalio, just a Seattle-drizzle
2. "damnificado" (left homeless due to some kind of disaster) is a scary word
3. new word of the day "raudal" (torrent)
4. really glorious sunset tonight
5. check out this video


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