You know. People here (PCVs) ask sometimes, "What were your selfish reasons for joining Peace Corps?" And I've always struggled to answer. That's not to say I'm completely selfless and only want "world peace" and to "save the children" or some stuff like that. But I had a hard time figuring out what exactly that answer would be for me. Sure I've always wanted to learn Spanish for many reasons but I couldn't have known I was going to a Spanish-speaking country when I was applying... After these last two weeks of complete and utter chaos, however, I think I've got it.
My life thus far these 24 years have been incredible. I have a family that loves me unconditionally. A mother that I've looked up to and wished I could be half as strong as her despite her challenges. A father that would do anything and give everything for his wife and children. An older brother who became distant but is still there and taught me so much my parents couldn't always teach. A younger sister figuring out life and love and growing stronger and more beautiful every day for it. A munchkin who brings joy to anyone who meets him. A grandmother who not only taught me but showed me what it means to have faith in The Lord. Another grandmother who showed me what a blessing children are and helped me find my passion in teaching. A best friend who knows me more than I know myself and has always been there through it all. Uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, non-blood related family. A home. Clothes. Food. I've had it all. And on this thanksgiving, as cliche as it is, I couldn't be more thankful for all of it. But that's just it. I've only ever known me, with them. And while that is a beautiful thing and something I would never want to change, I realized that I wanted to know me, outside of them. To discover what I'm capable of without having their safety net to always fall back on. I never want them out of my life, don't take any of this the wrong way. But when things got tough, could I make it on my own? Could I take care of myself? Could I discover a me without relying on their insights, perspectives, and infinite knowledge? This, I feel is my selfish reason for joining. Yes, they are always there when I'm a mess and crying. But through video chat or a telephone call. Yes, they give me comforting words when I'm sick but they're not here to bring me soup or a cold washcloth for my burning body.
And so, through these last few weeks I've found out I'm moving sites. And been a mess. I've gotten a parasite and honestly have felt the worst I've ever felt. I've wanted to do things and have had them to ask for their opinions, but they're not here to make decisions for me. So when I got sick, I had to take care of myself. I actually made the call to the docs (if you know me, that's a big deal). I got myself to the capital. I went alone to the lab to get tests done. I stayed, drank fluids, ate when I could, rested. Then when the challenging in-between came of going back to site or staying in the capital till the Thanksgiving party when I still felt pretty off, was worried about my dog, and knew my house was a mess, I had to figure things out on my own. I was being pushed to stay by friends. It would have been easier, after all. But something was pulling me to go. To go home, clean up my responsibilities and just go back to the capital the next day. And I did. I was shaking from head to toe when I made it with no strength whatsoever. But I cleaned my house, filled my water tank, did my dishes, took care of Diego, thanked Fredito 100X for doing that for me on short notice and not knowing how long I'd be gone, etc. and I woke up today, and left for the capital yet again. And despite it being non-stop, I felt good about it.
I made it to the random hotel on my own and we partied. We had a pool and jacuzzi on the roof:
We grouped together for a foto (or 4) of those that came in March together:
We sang (a lot):
Smiled some more:
And then we ate here:
And these (these were just for our table alone):
It wasn't gram's apple pie, but it was pie :D
And made a few messes:
And on the way back, I missed that last carro from Villa. I didn't hit freak-out moment yet but tried to make a few phone calls to see if someone could come get me. No one was answering. Then a random lady and her friend showed up and said something and turns to me and goes, "Let's go!" And I go "where?" She replied, "59!" She made a phone call and a little guagua showed up in seconds and we were on our way. I thanked her and thanked her cuz I didn't know what I was going to do in the dark in Villa without a way to get home.
After all that I sat in my house with no luz and just sighed. This has been insane. I've been depressed. Unsure. Lonely. Sick. And downright without hope. But I made it. I took care of my house, myself, Diego, and my emotions (everyone's got their moments, of course). And while I would never ask to not have my family and friends to help me through things, I now know that I can, in fact, do things on my own (with words of affirmation always welcome along the way aaaand a few answered and unanswered prayers from the Big Guy-can't actually do everything all on my own).
And? I'm still me.
And I'm okay.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.