Monday, November 8, 2010

Settling in

I’ve been in my site for about a week now, and as could be expected, the realization that I’ll be here for the next two years feels surreal. Don’t get me wrong - I’m enjoying myself so far. It’s nice here and I feel comfortable. However, there are times when I have to simply stop and take a second to slow everything down. Some moments I’ll settle into a chair and become quiet, gazing at the yellow paint on my wooden walls and thinking about nothing, just absorbing my surroundings. When I’m sitting still like this, I think it’s my brain trying to bring my new life into perspective. I’ll lie on the couch and stare out the glass slats and metal bars encasing the side window of my house, through the spiny foliage and the garden, up at the sky. Maybe I’ll fall asleep, or maybe I’ll just lie there, but I’m taking something in, whether consciously or subconsciously. It’s probably about the two years, obviously. It’s going to take me a while to understand what two years really means.

Also, I have this profound feeling about Guatemalans I meet here, in the tiny shop where I buy my 5 gallon jug of purified water or the humble diner where I eat my three meals, at the municipal office where I work or on bus rides to the provincial capital of San Marcos. I can’t help but recognize, probably much more than they do, that we’re – well, that we’re going to be close. It’s inevitable. In a town of 2,000 (not the 6,000 I was originally told) I’m going to know everyone. Everyone, of course, is also going to know me, but I doubt that they really realize or believe that I’ll actually be here for two whole years. This is the concept I’ve been reeling with lately, in a mild-yet-pleasantly-awestruck sort of way.

I feel similar to when I met the rest of my Peace Corps training class back in early August. Before leaving for Guatemala, we left our respective corners of the United States and converged on Washington D.C. for a brief pre-departure orientation. Then it would be off to Guatemala. That morning, as I walked through the hotel lobby to our scheduled meeting place, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. I remember this electrified feeling, knowing that without exaggeration, I might, at any moment, see someone or walk next to someone who very well could be part of the rest of my life. I had heard that Peace Corps friendships were for life, and that seemed pretty straightforward; people sharing two years together in a complicated, vivid experience would depart with some pretty meaningful bonds. And now, just like then, I know that the people I’m surrounding myself with, whether Peace Corps volunteers or Guatemalans, will be an unforgettable part of the rest of my life. And that’s a crazy feeling! Hardly ever do you meet someone and know how important they’re going to be. But just like walking into that nondescript conference hall back in D.C. where I met my training class for the first time, I walk through the steep, cobblestone streets of my site with a premonition. And not surprisingly, I smile a lot and try to make a good impression with my new neighbors, knowing that we’re going to be spending a prettttttty good deal of time together.

1 comment:

  1. "Realize what two years really means." I feel that. Time for me feels the same right now. A month into surgery with 7 more to go... Slowly recovering... Makes me realize how time is as you can absorb it, rather than how time feels when you are just doing it. Very different. I feel like I'm learning what patience is and how my self really can process things.