Above: pictures of Rio, I fell in love with the city and the most hospitable people I’ve met on this Earth in 4 days flat.
Below: massive blog post
I tried to write this blog post several times since I first got back (oh, god) almost 5 months ago. What I found out was: 1) I had integrated extremely well and my auto-response was mañana/otro dia (tomorrow, another day) and that 2) I really underestimated how sad I would be to come home. It was the most permeating sad I’ve felt in a long time and that gave me exactly zero motivation to write.
I think that coming back is somewhat of a grieving process for a lot of volunteers. It’s the end of a really freaking rad cool chapter of your life and the beginning of the unknown, scary world of options. Should you go to grad school? Find a high paying job? Work abroad again? You’ve been away so long most of us have no real ties or commitment anymore, so there are so many options. Which is crazy after you’ve lived in such small communities where your options for vegetables were literally onion and tomatoes most days.
You are coming off a really high point in life – I’ve never felt so accomplished or powerful after traveling in Brazil alone and learning functioning (not perfect, but it works) Portuguese in six weeks. I felt like I could do anything when I stepped off my red eye flight from Rio to DFW, only to realize a few weeks later that unemployment was still high, the skills I had learned abroad were not so tangible that employers were jumping at the chance to hire me, and that living in my dad and stepmom’s renovated attic/loft and taking down messages on post it notes kind of made me feel like I was in middle school again.
I found that “busy” was something to be revered again instead of pitied. And that “I made cornbread” was no longer an acceptable answer to “what did you do today?”
In a moment of folly and self indulgence two weeks after I got home, I got a smartphone. Which was… It was like a really unbalanced power dynamic in a lolita/may-december relationship. I was the teenage girl. The smartphone was the older man and knew how to do things I didn’t even realize were possible, and that I wasn’t ready for. I hated all the flashing lights and beeping, and had to turn off the sound so I could sleep at night.
Life was easy again, and instead of it being wonderful like I expected it to be (wifi! washing machines! cars! delivery pizza!), I found myself hating myself a little. Coming back was an adjustment, just like leaving and learning to wash my clothes by hand was, but coming back to machines made me feel like I was cheating.
It’s probably a good thing I had committed to being a bridesmaid in an October wedding, because I was pretty close to buying a one way plane ticket back to Rio, that city everyone falls in love with.
THE REASON I feel ok writing this post at this time, I think, is that I finally feel like things are coming together. I found though that I have some really great friends in Dallas that will let me complain for months – really, months – about how sad I am, and not recommend that I find an institution to care for me. I got sick of hearing myself start out sentences with “when I was in the Peace Corps” but now I have some other adventures to talk about or at least have learned to keep my mouth shut. It took 3 months for me to print out pictures without being super sad but I did it finally, framed them, and they even make me smile some days. I dress like a lady now, and can even pass for one as long as I don’t open my mouth. Signing a lease was way too much commitment for me a couple months ago (a whole year??? What?), but I am starting to consider it 5 months later… in a bit. I am doing Middle Class American Woman Things, like jogging multiple miles, eating salads, dressing up for Halloween, and not talking about parasites in public.
After some job hopping and experimentation with the corporate world, I started working at a nonprofit as a programs coordinator and feel like I’ve found my people and where I’m supposed to be for now. That’s made a huge difference.
Nothing else exciting or new in life… this blog might have become obsolete. I don’t have any more crazy stories for you, except of how I dropped trou & peed in a public garden the other day when the lobby attendant refused to let me use the lobby restroom (due to “policy”). In one of the snootiest neighborhoods in Dallas. I swear, I’m a lady.
Nothing new happening in the next few months except an impromptu trip to Sao Paulo with a handsome guide.
I’m not sure how to write about anything “normal” anymore. But I want to keep trying.